Wednesday, 25 June 2014

A paper home, why not?

Wasps make paper nests. Wasps are expert paper makers, capable of turning raw wood into sturdy paper homes. A wasp queen uses her mandibles to scrape bits of wood fiber from fences, logs, or even cardboard. She then breaks the wood fibers down in her mouth, using saliva and water to weaken them. The wasp flies to her chosen nest site with a mouth full of soft paper pulp. The nest starts off in the spring with the queen building a petiole (a single stalk from which the nest hangs) and a single hexagonal shaped cell at the end of the petiole, then approximate six more cells are formed around the centre one. The queen will lay eggs in each cell as it is being constructed. Once these eggs have hatched out and gone through the developments stages and pupated into adult wasps, these new worker wasps take over nest construction and leave the queen solely to lay eggs and control the nest, this from now on is her primary function!

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

The flower development stages on the Brassicaceae family

1. Early stages of flower development. The reproductive organs are being formed
SMZ-171 Stereomicroscope 40X | MLC-150 Fiber Optic Illuminator | Moticam 5

2. Pre-anthesis stages. Both stamen and carpel are elongating
SMZ-171 Stereomicroscope 50X | MLC-150 Fiber Optic Illuminator | Moticam 5

3. Anthesis stage. Anthers open to liberate the pollen grains, which adhere to the stigma where germination starts
SMZ-171 Stereomicroscope 20X | MLC-150 Fiber Optic Illuminator | Moticam 5

4. Fertilization already occurred. Sepals, petals and stamen degenerate and fruit development starts
SMZ-171 Stereomicroscope 20X | MLC-150 Fiber Optic Illuminator | Moticam 5

5. Fruit development follows
SMZ-171 Stereomicroscope 10X | Moticam 5

6. Latter stage of fruit development. Seeds can already be discerned inside de fruit
SMZ-171 Stereomicroscope 10X | Moticam 5

7. Details of the pollen grains
BA-410E Advanced Upright Microscope with 20X Plan Apochromatic objective | Moticam 5

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Small is beautiful

Diatoms, exhibition mount by Klaus Kemp (UK)

The fine glassy details of diatoms are admired already for hundreds of years, ever since the invention of the microscope. During Victorian times, manipulation and studying of diatoms was considered an art and a pastime, and slides with different species of diatoms were used to thoroughly evaluate the latest microscope objectives for performance.

The diatoms are one of the largest and ecologically most significant groups of organisms on earth. They are also one of the easiest to recognize, because of their unique cell structure, silicified cell wall and life cycle. They occur almost everywhere that is adequately lit (because most species need light for photosynthesis) and wet - in oceans, lakes and rivers; marshes, fens and bogs; damp moss and rock faces; even on the feathers of some diving birds. Some have been captured by other organisms and live as endosymbionts, e.g. in dinoflagellates and foraminifera. Because of their abundance in marine plankton, especially in nutrient-rich areas of the world's oceans, diatoms probably account for as much as 20% of global photosynthetic fixation of carbon, which is more than all the world's tropical rainforests.