The Foldscopes offered a surprising level of detail, making me think how tools like these could be invaluable in observing the minute features required to identify certain kinds of organisms to the species level. In particular, I have had a lot of trouble identifying mosses at home, even with the help of a hand lens.
Because of this experience, I chose to use the Foldscope to study a piece of moss growing on a tree trunk. Under the microscope, I could see the individual leaves of the moss in great detail. When properly focused, the moss shows a regular texture, and the leaves curl up along the edges. These kinds of details could be useful in the identification of the exact species of moss. Based on a visual inspection, I believe this individual is some kind of haircap moss, but I think seeing the sporophytes might be important in determining which exact type of haircap it is.
Looking at the leaves up close, I wonder about the function of the rolled edges. Could it have some purpose in retaining water? I am also curious about whether the Foldscope could help me examine the sporophytes of this plant and explain how their structure relates to their biological role.
I conducted this project as part of Professor Pringle’s EEB321 class at Princeton University.