Pollen hunt ( Polianthes tuberosa )

Hello everyone,

Flowers are beautiful and equally fascinating especially structures of different types of pollen grains and they way they interact with different fluids. This time I’ve observed the pollen grains of tuberose under my foldscope and also the petal epidermis.

Here are pictures of the petal. There are even some stomata like structures  on the petals which is surprising because till date I’ve only heard about stomata on leaf epidermis.




Here are pictures of the pollen grains both dry and wet:



Now, here’s a video of how the pollen grains interact with water..they swell up very quickly  so quick that its not possible to take the slide out from the foldscope, add water and observe them absorbing the water.  The video is real time and not a time lapse.

So, I had to figure out a way in which I could capture the action.Here’s how I managed it

1.) Tape together 3 coverslips in a row like soimg_20161005_1913491

2.) now once you tape them like this, you can place them on the slide img_20161005_191457

3.) now here’s the trick  mount the pollen grains under one of the coverslips on the sides and not the central one.

4.) focus the pollen grains under the foldscope. Now you’ll notice that since we’ve mounted the pollen grains under the coverslip at the end of the slide, one coverslip along with the slide will stick out of the foldscope like this

img_20161005_191625 5.)when you focus the pollen grains you can mount your phone with the magnetic couplers so that you can see them on the screen .

I haven’t mounted my phone here because magnets make my phone stop working 🙁 so, I have to take the videos through the lens directly by holding the phone with my hands.

6.)once you’ve focused the desired area on your phone screen its time to add water under the coverslip like this.


The water will come down under the lowest coverslip by adhesion and we’ll be able to view it on the screen. Tilt the foldscope a bit so that the water comes down and does’t start coming out from the sides of the top coverslip.

On Lakshmi sir’s suggestion I tried doing this with glycerine. The process is much slower compared to water.

Also, no flowers were plucked for the post 🙂 I’ve taken it from garlands.

~Have Fun Foldscoping. 🙂

9 Comments Add yours

  1. laksiyer says:

    @Mitaliii. This is a fantastic setup, absolutely fantastic. This will work not only for pollen grains but for other aspects where you want to introduce liquids into a sample!!! I am definitely going to try it. I am also amazed how you take such fantastic pics and videos without the magnetic couplers. This is truly the spirit of foldscoping, to hack and make it happen.

    Now regarding the phone, I have only seen one other instance when someone complained that it stopped because of the magnets. What model of phone is this? Perhaps @Manu and @Jim could provide a fix, Its switching off is pretty strange. in the worst case we can talk to @Dad/@Mom to change your phone :). Please also post a picture of the pollen and I’ll put it up on the pollen database.

  2. laksiyer says:

    One more thing, how are you loading your slide? I dont see it sticking through the slide holder?

  3. laksiyer says:

    @Mitaliii. I have put in your data in the pollen database. Could you also send me a link to the picture of the flower petal (or send it to me in our group)

  4. Mitaliii says:

    Yes sir hacks are damn fun 🙂 I’m glad you liked the setup. And the phone I have is a Redmi Note 3 it takes brilliant pictures will share the slide trick in the next post soon and also the picture of the flower petal I’ll share it on the group.

  5. Manu Prakash says:

    Dear @Mitalli,

    What a “jaw dropping” observation. I am absolutely astounded. Brilliant. After trying to calm down; here are few comments/suggestions.

    1) I am really puzzled with the “pigment” colored organelle – it’s size varies between cells but it’s present in every single cell. We should really try to figure out it’s identity.
    2) Your comment about stomata in flowers is beautiful. Fantastic observation. Only once before I have seen stomata in flowers – it would be worth comparing stomatal density in these two flowers. Here is the reference in “butter-cup flower” https://microcosmos.foldscope.com/?p=8877
    3) It’s fascinating to look at your macroscopic photo and the microscopic image. Usually you wonder where exactly is that location. I have used this plugin that I like (thinglink) to make the micro-scopic-macro-scopic connection. You might enjoy playing with this as well. It’s simple to use; and the image can be embedded and makes it interactive. This is just a suggestion – I will play more with the plugin to understand it’s limitations. But when you present your work to others – you might find this interactive mapping useful. https://microcosmos.foldscope.com/?p=11361
    4) The capillary wicking of water in the slide – and the swelling pollen are beautiful. It is indeed a generic technique that will be useful for every foldscope user (as @Laks mentioned). I propose you write a separate additional post just on how people can replicate this trick. Very very useful. I have been meaning to “kill” cells using soap – to show people that washing hands is important. I will use this exact setup to make some posts. Maybe – you can beat me to it 🙂
    5) Pollen tubes emerge when pollen get the right kind of moisture and lipids (@laks taught me some interesting concepts about mechanism of pollen detection for generting pollen tubes). I have tried in the past but did not get the right conditions to generate pollen tubes. But you should indeed try to setup a time lapse and leave the pollen soaked and see if they generate pollen tubes. Would be wonderful to watch them grow – they are a model system for studying cell wall growth.
    6) Coming back to the “round spots” in the center of the cell – I am puzzled why they don’t lead to a “yelowshih ting” to the flower. Maybe they do. Could it be that all the pigmented material is collected in one place to “truly make a white color”.. and if that pigment is not packed in a single place – the flower would have been “colored”. Since a lot of evolutionary pressure exists to generate colors – it might be a mechanism to get the color out. I am very very excited by this thought.

    Needless to say; your work is absolutely brilliant. Thanks for sharing your findings with all of us (and everyone in foldscope community). It inspires all of us..


  6. Manu Prakash says:

    Also; I will test the “magnet” switching the phone off problem. That is surprising. I can suggest a quick hack; but in the next version of foldscope – a smaller magnet with a hole will be used; so it might not be too big a problem. Does the phone has any settings on “self off” which might be getting induced.

    Also; did I say – you have steady hands 🙂

    Finally, Finally – we should get more foldscope units to you so you start training others. I am tagging @Max here – send an email at manup at stanford and I will ask Max to get you some more units. You are a Foldscope “super user” and it will be phenomenal for you to train a few others as well.


  7. Mitaliii says:

    Dear @Manu Sir,
    Now after reading the comments many many times and trying to stop smiling.Thank You @Manu Sir I’m soo glad you liked the set up and now that you’ve talked about the yellow things (which i thought were simply nuclei ) giving a tinge to the petal its been on my mind. It didn’t look like that as soon i mounted it, it looked like the petal we see in your post kind of like a bubble wrap then I noticed these structures in the region which was crushed a bit so I pressed the coverslip over the petal with the back of a needle and more of these structures were revealed and also the stomata were visible then.
    What just struck me is that it means there was a laver of those glass like cells on top of these yellow structures maybe they interacted with light in a way to make it look white and not yellow.
    I will surely do another post on the trick I work with without magnets. And I’ve checked the phone settings..nothing there tho I did find out that many phones have this issue of sleeping when brought close to magnets.I hope the next post helps everyone who has been facing the same issues.

  8. laksiyer says:

    @Mitallii and @Manu. I am just wondering if those blobs are actually trichomes that holds the petal oil/wax for fragrance. There is a floral wax made from Polianthes and I suspect it is this same substance. Stomata would have guard cells, further the blobs seem to have a membranous cover like the trichomes of ginger root or mint.

  9. Mitaliii says:

    @Laks sir, sorry but I dont really understand the trichome thingy because when I say trichomes, I think of hair like structures and these are blobs although I did find out the structure of trichomes.They habe a blob like head. I should read more about them.And regarding the stomata like structures , what I read is fragrant flowers diffuse volatile aromatic compounds, now that does ring a bell with buttercup petals as well. Both the flowers are fragrant, now this could be the function of these stomata on flower petals I.e. diffusion of those volatile aromatic compounds 🙂 . I should check out more fragrant and non fragrant flowers to find this out.

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