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QX3 Digital Image Gallery
Darkfield Illumination

Stentors

While searching for microscopic pond life in stagnant pools of water in and around the Tallahassee, Florida area, we have discovered and imaged a number of stentors.

Stentor protozooa (Stentor polymorphus) are single-celled animals that grow to a length of 1.5 to 2 millimeters, much larger than many co-habitating multi-cellular aquatic organisms. Often, stentors will attach the lower portion of their pod to debris and assume the trumpet shape illustated above. The circle of tiny cilia surrounding the trumpet rim beat continuously and serve to create localized convection currents in the water to draw smaller organisms into the rim or mouth (cytostome). When a stentor manages to capture some food (algae or other aquatic organisms) in the trumpet, they rapidly close the rim and force the food into their midsections, as illustrated by the lower two photomicrographs below. Stentors vary in color, depending upon their diet, but they can appear green, blue, or reddish-yellow.

Stentor at 60x Magnification

Stentor at 60x Magnification

Stentor recoiled at 60x Magnification

Darkfield illumination digital images were captured using an Intel Play QX3 computer microscope modified for reflected light darkfield illumination. Oblique light was applied to the specimens using light pipes from a Dolan-Jenner Model 180 fiber optics illuminator containing a 150 watt projection lamp. The mixing chamber and diffusion screen were removed from the stage and a large piece of dark construction paper placed beneath the stage to avoid images of the paper being superimposed over the photomicrographs.

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