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Brightfield Illumination Digital Image Gallery

Featuring a wide spectrum of stained and unstained specimens, the MIC-D brightfield image gallery contains digital images that were captured using the microscope at a variety of zoom optical system magnifications. The images were corrected and adjusted with respect to contrast, brightness, sharpness, hue, color balance, and saturation using digital image processing tools available in the MIC-D software processing window.

Acorn (Quercus) Stem Thin Section - From the tiny acorn grows the mighty oak and the acorn stem is the link that holds the two together until the fall ripening. The acorn cap with stem intact provides budding tree taxonomists with important clues to the true species identity of its source within the oak family.

American Beachgrass - American beachgrass grows naturally on dunes that border beaches along the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico coastlines, but does not fare well in the richer, darker, and less oxygenated soils of the inland marshes and the bay sides of barrier islands. Beachgrass stands up well against the continuous salt spray of the crashing waves and ocean breeze and the blazing heat of the summer sun on the dune sands.

Amphibian Simple Columnar Epithelium - Amphibians, members of the phylum Chordata, are a class of animals that include the frogs, toads, salamanders, and caecilians. All feature an aquatic larval stage with gills, adult lungs, and external fertilization and development in an aquatic environment.

Aphid - Known also as plant lice or ant cows, aphids create significant economic hardships to farmers, horticulturists, and home gardeners by causing leaf curling and other deformations. These insects are also responsible for sooty molds, wilting, damage to fruits and vegetables, and in some cases, they act as vectors for plant diseases. Although aphids rarely kill their plant hosts, the mouthparts are sometimes contaminated by diseased plants during feeding . When the aphid moves to the next plant host, it acts as a carrier, infecting other plants with its tainted mouthparts.

Aurelia Ephyra Jellyfish - Members of the jellyfish in the class Scyphozoa undergo a complex life cycle including a larval medusa or ephyra stage. The genus Aurelia demonstrates the typical life stages for this class of invertebrates, which also includes the free-swimming planula, the stalked and tentacled schyphistoma polyp, the strobila bud, and the mature medusa stages.

Basswood (Tilia) Stem - The American Basswood (Tilia americana) is a hardwood tree found throughout the eastern half of North America, ranging from the northern Canadian Provinces all the way south to Florida. Many of the species can interbreed, making natural hybrids quite common.

Bracken Fern (Pteridium) Rhizomes - As a monotypic genus of ferns in the phylum Filicophyta, Pteridium is only represented by P. aquilinum, known also as false indusium or the bracken fern. Unusual for most plant species, the bracken fern is considered to have a worldwide distribution (except in cold deserts) with possibly only two subspecies.

Butterfly Wing Scales - Butterflies and moths are unique insects partly because their entire bodies are covered by microscopic scales that aid in flight, waterproofing, and coloring. The digital image featured in this section, captured with the MIC-D microscope, is a relatively high magnification view of a butterfly wing revealing the intricate structure of the wing scale network.

Cabbage Flower Bud - The familiar cabbage, a popular vegetable in many cultures, is a member of the cruciferous family of flowering plants that also includes the mustards and broccolis. Unknown to many vegetable lovers, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts (baby cabbages) are closely akin to the lowly cabbage, and are members of a grouping known as cole crops or the cabbage family. Cauliflower is named by a derivation from "cabbage flower", and originated over 2,000 years ago in the gardens of Asia Minor and the Mediterranean region.

Canine Biting Louse (Trichodectes canis) - In the wingless insect suborder of chewing lice (Mallophaga), Trichodectes canis is the louse species that most commonly feeds on domestic dogs and other canids such as coyotes, wolves, and foxes, which may come into contact with dogs. Unlike ticks and other parasites, the 2,800 species of biting lice described worldwide are very host-specific. The dog louse, or canine biting louse, is about 1.5 millimeters in length with a dorsoventrally flattened body and a broad, flat head.

Corn Root Tissue - Corn is the common name for the cereal grass widely grown as food for humans and animals. Along with wheat and rice, it is one of the world's chief grain crops and the leading crop grown in the United States. Native to the Americas, corn (Zea mays), the domesticated variety of the Zea grass family, originally was cultivated by Native Americans 8,000 to 10,000 years ago and is now used for human food and animal feed.

Corpus Luteum Thin Section - In the human ovary, follicles, the precursor cells of ova, undergo a complex monthly maturation cycle. At birth of a female approximately 400,000 ovarian follicles have been developed, but only about 400 enter into ovulation during a woman's childbearing years. The corpus luteum is the enlarged remnant of the secondary (Graafian) follicle following monthly ovulation, and it features vacuoles associated with the fat-soluble steroids, estrogen and progesterone.

Ctenoid Fish Scales - Derived from the Greek word cteno, meaning "comb", the ctenoid fish scale name refers to comb-like ctenii, which decorate the edges of the scale, as illustrated in the MIC-D digital image presented in this section. The spiny posterior margin of ctenoid scales has a wide variety of morphologies.

Developing Long Bone - Long bones are lengthy, cylindrical, hollow in the center, and are characterized by a joint at each end. They are designed to provide structural support, and various muscles attach to these bones to allow movement of the arms and legs. Nerves, veins, and arteries lie along the course of long bones.

Dicot Leaf Epidermis - The dicot plant genus Sedum includes several hundred species, which are generally classified as succulents, and which have thick leaves able to withstand a drought. The digital image below illustrates a stained thin section of Sedum dicotyledon epidermal cells with numerous stomata, each having guard cells encircled by subsidiary cells.

Dictydium cancellatum - Mycologists commonly study slime molds because their fruiting body parts have many similarities in appearance to common fungi. These tiny creatures are usually found in rotted logs and decaying plant matter, where there is an abundant supply of moisture and bacteria.

Dogfish Shark Placoid Scales - Dogfish sharks are small sharks belonging to one of three families: the dogfish shark family, Squalidae; the requiem shark family, Carcharhinidae; and the cat shark family, Scyliorhinidae. The best-known species are the spiny dogfish of the dogfish shark family, and the smooth dogfish of the requiem shark family.

Druse Crystals - Plants, as rooted, sessile life forms have evolved intricate mechanisms for avoiding predation (herbivory), such as thorns, toxic and repellant chemicals, and even guardian commensal organisms such as valiant ant colonies. Many plant species produce crystal inclusions as a defense mechanism against herbivory.

Earthworm (Lumbricus terrestris) - Earthworms, members of the genus Lumbricus, are often thought of as the motivation for awakening birds and as the favored bait of the young angler. The night crawler (Lumbricus terrestris), introduced to North America by early European settlers, is an earthworm that ranges from 90 millimeters up to 300 millimeters in length and constructs burrows up to 2.5 meters (approximately 8 feet) in depth.

Epiglottis Elastic Cartilage - In order to prevent food from entering the air passages of the human larynx and trachea, a thin, leaf-shaped flap of tissue, the epiglottis, closes the opening into the larynx during swallowing. Composed mostly of elastic cartilage, the epiglottis joins the external ear and the auditory tube of the middle ear in utilizing the structural support and flexibility this type of connective tissue imparts.

Fat-Stained Adipose Tissue - Adipose tissue is a specialized connective tissue that serves as a main storage site for triglycerides (fat), and is found in two forms, brown and white, in mammals. The digital image featured in this section was captured with the MIC-D, and reveals fat globules in a thin section of adipose tissue stained with Sudan IV.

Fern Prothallium - Fern is a common name for the cryptogamous (spore-producing) plants belonging to the division Filicophyta, also called Filicinophyta or Pterophyta, of seedless vascular plants. They are primitive vascular plants with true roots, stems, and complex leaves. Most ferns reproduce by alternating generations between successive sexual and asexual forms.

Fern Sporophyte - Sporophytes can reproduce either by vegetative cloning via their rhizomes or through spore formation via meiosis. Spores, rather than gametes, are the unicellular, haploid products of meiosis in fern plants. Spores in turn undergo mitotic cell divisions to produce the multicellular, haploid gametophyte. Relative to the familiar sporophytes, the fern gametophytes are small and inconspicuous.

Fetal Elastic Cartilage - As with bone, elastic cartilage contains a matrix, fibers, and cells. In human elastic cartilage, the cartilage cells (chondrocytes) are contained in lacunae and the matrix contains abundant elastic fibers, explaining the characteristic flexibility of this type of connective tissue.

Fetal Skull Membranous Bone - The brain of the developing fetus changes so rapidly over the course of gestation that it is possible to date the pregnancy stage by the brain's appearance. Four sutures or bone seams, the coronal (top), lamdiodal (lateral), sagittal, and squamosal (interior) form between the bony plates of the fetal skull as it is developing.

Filamentous Algae (Spirogyra) - What appears to some as mere green pond scum masks the intricate and beautiful world of filamentous algae, which is clearly visible to the microscopist and botanist. Owing its generic name, Spirogyra, to the unique manner in which members of this genus twist their green chloroplasts into spirals, this key characteristic makes it easy to recognize species in this cosmopolitan genus of the phylum Gamophyta (conjugating green algae) in the division Chlorophyta.

Flea (Ctenocephalides) - Ctenocephalides felis is commonly known as the cat flea and Ctenocephalides canis is known as the dog flea. Both are members of the 1,600 species referred to as fleas, in the order Siphonaptera ("wingless siphon"). These blood-sucking insects can be found worldwide, from the Arctic to the tropics.

Frog Striated Muscle - The celebrated jumping frog of Mark Twain's Calaveras County, California would not have been so famous (nor would Mr. Twain) without striated muscles. Striated muscles typical of the rear leg skeletal muscles enable frogs to leap long distances. Composed of narrow and wide elongated fibers, striated muscles appear striped when observed under a microscope.

Goniatitic Cephalopod Fossil - Cephalopods represent a class of mobile predacious carnivore mollusks that possess a bilaterally symmetrical body, a prominent head, and a modified foot composed of tentacles. The digital image featured in this section was captured from a relatively low-magnification view of a polished thin section from a cephalopod fossil having goniatitic suture morphology.

Green Sea Fingers (Codium fragile) - The "green sea fingers" characteristic of the green alga Codium fragile also give rise to another apt description as "dead man's fingers", because the tubular structures tend to hang from rocks when the tide is low. This common species is a dark green filamentous alga that inhabits the intertidal zone, and is a member of the family Codiaceae, lacking leukoplats and pyrenoids and having variable thallic forms.

Hairy Mammal Skin - In contrast to the largely naked skin of humans, most mammals feature hairy skin. The pelt, fur, or skin is often vital to an animal for its own survival, particularly in colder, wetter climates. The characteristics of an animal's skin, however, make some creatures, such as seals, goats, and cattle, valuable to humans for clothing or shelter.

Horsetail (Equisetum) Mature Strobilus - Horsetails (Equisetum arvense) are hollow-stemmed plants that anchor deep into the ground by an extensive, creeping root system. Also commonly known as mare's tail, horse pipes, or snake grass, their origins reach far back into the past, some 200 million years. These living fossils thrive in wet localities such as stream banks, swamps, bogs, wet meadows, and gullies, as well as roadside ditches.

Human Auerbach's Plexus - "You are what you eat" may be true, but the mechanism by which ingested food becomes vital nutrition for the human body depends largely on the digestive system, including the small intestine. This critical organ, a convoluted tube, extends from the pyloric narrowing of the human stomach for about 20 feet in length as it tapers down to join the large intestine. The duodenum, the first of three parts, is the shortest (about 10 inches) and widest segment of the small intestine.

Human Bladder - The old barroom adage, "you can't buy beer, you can only rent it", is indelicately tied to the function of the human bladder and the entire urogenital system. Although the average person will drink 8,000 gallons of water during their lifetime, the typical human bladder can hold only 13 ounces of liquid at one time.

Human Blood Fluke (Schistosoma mansoni) - Trematode parasites in the phylum Platyhelminthes include the internationally troublesome schistosomes, which account for infections in about 200 million people in 75 tropical and sub-tropical countries. Of the three main species pathogenic to people, the human blood fluke (Schistosoma mansoni) has recently caught the imaginations of geneticists involved in the World Health Organization-sponsored Schistosome Genome Project. The goals of this ambitious project are to construct the physical map of this trematode's genome and the discovery of novel chemotherapeutic targets and vaccine candidates.

Human Compact Bone - There are two basic structural types of bone in mammals, compact and spongy. Compact bone is very dense and hard on the outside, and makes up most of the bones in the arms and legs of humans.

Human Fetus Skeletal Joint - Humans and other mammals incorporate joints in their skeletal structure, which allow both complex movement and a degree of flexibility that helps avoid bone breakage. Joints, which may or may not be cartilaginous, develop from mesoderm of the embryo, or in the case of the human fetus, after the ossification of the bones of the fetus. The non-condensed, undifferentiated portions of mesoderm between the bones may develop by one of three mechanisms.

Human Fingernail Development - Nails, whether fingernails or toenails, are derived from the same source of ectodermal skin cells in humans. Atypical, humans appear to conserve into adulthood more of the common traits that are generally shared by young primates such as predominantly naked skin (hairless) and nails that may actually be fetalized claws.

Human Heart Tissue - The mammalian heart is composed primarily of cardiac (or smooth) muscle cells, but includes blood vessels, nerves, and valves. Structurally and functionally, the heart is an efficient, continuously running pump. Arteries, including the aorta (the main artery), carry oxygenated blood away from the heart, and veins return oxygen-depleted blood to the heart.

Human Lower Duodenum - The duodenum joins the jejunum and ileum as one of the three major sections of the human small intestine in the lower gastrointestinal (GI) system. To aid peristalsis (the movement of digesting matter), there are inner circular and outer longitudinal layers of smooth muscle surrounding the duodenum.

Human Lung Tissue - The lungs are the essential organs of mammalian respiration. Human lungs are paired in the chest with the heart in between. The external surface of a lung is smooth and conforms to the shape and size of the thoracic cavity or chest, bounded by the rib cage in front and back, and below by the movable diaphragm.

Human Male Chromosomes - In the normal karyotype of male chromosomes, 23 pairs of very long DNA molecules and their associated proteins carry the hereditary information of a man. The human haploid genome contains about three billion DNA nucleotide pairs divided among 22 pairs of autosomal chromosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes (XY).

Human Spleen - The human spleen is a highly vascular, glandular, and ductless organ (or gland to endocrinologists) situated at the cardiac end of the stomach. The important organ creates lymphocytes for the destruction and recycling of senile red-blood corpuscles (age of about 30 days). Similar functions are carried out by the liver. The spleen also acts as a blood reservoir, supplying blood in emergencies such as a bad cut.

Hydrodictyon Green Algae - In the green algae division Chlorophyta, members of the genus Hydrodictyon (the water nets) are sometimes considered weed or pest organisms because they are so prolific that they can overwhelm aquaculture facilities, lakes, irrigation ditches, and even rice fields, especially where introduced as alien water plants. Sexual and asexual reproduction are possible among these colonial green aquatic plants.

Legume Nodules - Legumes, including the many cultivated varieties of beans, peas, clovers, and alfalfa, are important as human food, livestock feed, and for restoring fertility to spent soil. Although renowned for their nitrogen-fixing abilities, it is not only the leguminous plants that add nitrates back to the soil; the partnership with symbiotic bacteria that reside on the root nodules contributes as well.

Lily Flower Bud - Lilies, the aristocrats of the flower garden, are herbaceous flowering plants native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. The name "lily" is most frequently applied to the 80-100 species belonging to the genus Lilium, of the family Liliaceae, and is derived from the Greek word leirion and the Roman term lilium, for the fabulous flowers.

Mallory-Stained Human Tongue Section - Developed by the late Frank Burr Mallory, an American pathologist, Mallory's stain is an important dye used by microscopists and histologists for preparations of connective tissues, fungi and molds, glands and other tissues, such as skin. Although there are several variations on the theme, or the chemical make-up and steps employed, Mallory's stains often feature alum (or iron) hematoxylin, a natural dye that stains nuclei blue and, when coupled with eosin, stains cytoplasm pink.

Mammalian Elastic Cartilage - Connective tissue includes bone, cartilage, tendons, and fatty tissues. Differing from articular (or hyaline) cartilage that depends on a stiff, fibrillar collagen network with fluid-filled spaces, mammalian elastic cartilage contains little or no collagen. Rather, elastic cartilage relies on other fibrillar matrix proteins for structural integrity. Elastin, the most well-studied of these proteins, forms the matrix of elastic cartilages typical of the mammalian ear, laryngeal tissues, and the epiglottis.

Mammalian Femur - Of the long bones of the mammalian body, the femur or thighbone is the longest, extending from the hip socket to the knee. Long bones are long, cylindrical, have hollow centers, and are characterized by a joint at each end.

Mammalian Sympathetic Ganglion - Mammalian sympathetic ganglion cells, typically obtained from laboratory rats and guinea pigs, are often used as models by physiologists to explain the biochemistry of nerve excitation and the effects that chemical substances, such as nicotine, may have on these processes. Such cells are also employed in medical research studies exploring possible solutions to devastating neuromuscular diseases such as cerebral palsy and muscular dystrophy, and potential therapies, where human experimentation is considered unethical and often illegal.

Mammalian Taste Buds - Being a gourmet chef or a gourmand is a matter of more than just good taste; it requires highly functional taste buds. The human mouth and nose feature thousands of different biochemical receptors that bind odorants and allow the brain to decode diverse signals for a plethora of tastes. In spite of the large number of receptors and codes, only five main tastes are distinguishable - sweet, bitter, sour, salty, and Umami (or Unami).

Mixed Green Algae - Prominent members of the kingdom Protista, algae are most common in aquatic habitats, but occur in nearly every environment. They range in size from unicellular microscopic pond inhabitants to giant kelp that reaches 200 feet (60 meters) in length. Algae produce a significant percentage of the Earth's oxygen, are the base of the food chain for nearly all aquatic life, and provide food and industrial products for humans.

Moss Bulbils - In similarity with other green plants, the mosses of the phylum Bryophyta are eukaryotic, utilize chlorophyll a and b, as well as xanthophylls and carotenoid pigments for photosynthesis, store starch, possess pectin-cellulose cell walls, and display open mitosis. Mosses have a sporic (diplohaplontic) life cycle that is oogamous, and may represent the link between thallophytes (flat, stemless and rootless plants such as liverworts) and cormophytes (plants with distinct leaves, stems, and roots).

Moss Capsule - Like other members of the nonvascular plant phylum Bryophyta, mosses require water (even in the form of heavy dew) to assist in reproduction. They are simple, rootless green plants that flourish in moist and shaded terrestrial habitats. Mosses were the first plants to grow on the Earth's mineral substrate, and can be found worldwide clinging to soil, rocks, and trees, in locations as biologically and climatically diverse as the rainforests of the Amazon and coastal Antarctica.

Mouse Tail Thin Section - As recounted in the old nursery rhyme, "Three Blind Mice", the farmer's wife cut off the tails of the mice with a carving knife for running after her, but did she know what she was slicing through? The tail of the mouse is composed of chondroid tissue, bone, tendon, muscle, and skin with hair follicles, as well as nerves and blood vessels.

Mucous Colon Epithelial Tissue - In the human gastrointestinal tract, most of the digestive system, from the mouth to the anus, follows the general scheme of hollow organs composed of four layers: the inner layer or mucosa epithelium, the submucosa, the muscularis, and the outer protective layer known as the adventitia or serosa. Following the small intestine, the large intestine includes the ascending, transverse, descending, and sigmoid sections of the colon.

Nitelia Algae - The wide spectrum of algae that inhabit stagnant waters can be the source of significant problems, causing odors and reducing the palatability of fresh water for livestock. Algae can also restrict the recreational use of ponds, and can have a devastating effect on the visual appeal.

Obelia Hydroid - This beautiful creature belongs to the phylum Cnidaria, which includes corals, sea anemones, jellyfish, and the freshwater hydra. The many species of this genus are widely distributed throughout all the oceans and are typical of cnidarians, both in their morphology and in their life cycle.

Palm and Sole Skin - Referred to as "thick skin," the palms and soles of a human may be 0.8 to 1.4 millimeters thick to protect against regular pressure and rubbing, while the epithelium on other parts of the body is usually only 0.1 millimeter thick. There are five morphologically distinct layers of the soles and palms, with the stratum basale being the deepest, followed sequentially by the stratum spinosum, stratum granulosum, stratum lucidium, and the outer-most protective layer, the stratum corneum.

Pennaria Hydrozoa - Belonging to the phylum Coelenterata, the class Hydrozoa is best known for the polyp state, which is revealed, under microscope examination, to form extensive and beautiful colonies. The multiply stained specimen illustrated below is a member of the Pennaria genus, and was captured in brightfield illumination on the MIC-D digital microscope.

Pennate and Centrate Diatoms - Diatoms have a silicified cell wall forming a pillbox-like shell (frustule) composed of overlapping halves that display intricate and delicate markings useful in testing the resolving power of microscope lenses. The beautiful symmetry and exquisite design of diatom frustules have gained them the title "jewel of the sea."

Peyer's Patches - Named for the seventeenth century Swiss anatomist, Hans Conrad Peyer, Peyer's patches are a collection of large oval lymph tissues that are located in the mucus-secreting lining of the human small intestine. These lymph nodules are especially abundant in the ileum, the lowest portion of the small intestine.

Pig Tooth Enamel Formation - In part because pigs are mammalian omnivores, their teeth can be utilized in studies modeling the development and aging of human teeth. Dental enamel is formed by the epithelial cells of the enamel organ, including the ameloblasts, the cells that produce enamel matrix proteins.

Pine Mature Embryo - Pine is the common name for species belonging to the genus Pinus, a member of the family Pinaceae, which represents resinous trees with needle-like leaves. Consisting of about 262 species, this is the largest family of conifers and includes fir, larch, spruce, hemlock, cedar, and Douglas fir.

Pine Needle Thin Section - Slender green needles projecting in bundles from the branches of pine trees are, in fact, photosynthetic leaves. Pine needles are streamlined and are particularly suited for converting sunlight into life sustaining food even on the coldest of winter days, while minimizing surface area available for evapotranspiration of cellular water during the hot summer months.

Pine Stem Thin Section - The pine family (Pinaceae), which contains over 50 species in cultivation in the United States, represents a group of magnificent evergreen species that have tremendous value both as ornamentals and as timber trees. Almost all pines have a continuous trunk that displays whorls or tiers of branches, with deviant branches only randomly and rarely appearing outside the whorl.

Polysiphonia Red Algae - While there are more than 4,000 catalogued species of red algae worldwide, most are found in tropical marine waters, and only a few are freshwater species. Polysiphonia, a common genus of marine red algae, is red in color because of the pigment phycobilin, which masks the green color of the chlorophyll responsible for photosynthesis. As a red-colored plant, Polysiphonia is well suited to absorb the green and blue-green light that typically penetrates the deeper seawater where these red algae thrive.

Potato Blight Fungus (Phytophthora infestans) - Potato late blight, caused by the fungus Phytophthora infestans, is one of the most important potato diseases in the world. It was responsible for the great Irish Potato Famine of the 1840's, leaving over 1 million people dead from famine-related diseases and resulting in the exodus of more than 1.5 million people from Ireland.

Primate Bladder - In the urinary tract system that filters the blood to produce waste urine, the primate urinary bladder is a principal component. The bladder is a muscular, balloon-shaped organ that stores urine, and at the appropriate time, squeezes it out via the urethra.

Primate Colon - The colon or large intestine is the muscular tube of the gastrointestinal system that begins at the small intestine and ends at the rectum. Absorbing water and minerals, balancing electrolytes, and compacting fecal matter for elimination, comprise the main functions of the colon in primates.

Primate Hyaline Cartilage - As one of the three types of cartilage contributing to the primate skeletal structure, hyaline cartilage plays a role in endochondral ossification of bones. In primary ossification, masses of hyaline cartilage form models of future bones in the embryonic primate.

Primate Ileum Stained Thin Section - The ileum, the lowest section of the small intestine, connects to the jejunum and the large intestine. In common with other portions of the primate small intestine, the ileum employs small finger-like appendages, or villi, for the absorption of nutrients from digesting matter.

Rhizopus Conjugation - As the bane of fruit growers and produce managers, but the recipient of high praise from Japanese chefs and vegetarians worldwide, the fungal genus Rhizopus represents a series of contradictions and wonders. Named because of their rhizome-like creeping stolons, these fungal colonies in the division Zygomycetes (or Zygomycota) can spread rapidly by airborne spores or via the root-like rhizoids.

Scabies Mite (Sarcoptes scabiei) - Scabies, Sarcoptes scabiei, represent the itch or mange mites responsible for sarcoptic mange in domestic and wild animals, such as horses and wolves, as well as the parasitic infection that has irritated humans since the dawn of civilization. Awareness of the Acari arachnids dates back to ancient Egypt (1550 BC), where they were featured throughout the writings of the major Greek scholars.

Shepherd's Purse (Capsella) Embryos - An annual herb of the mustard family (Cruciferae or Brassicaceae), the shepherd's purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris) is a native to the Mediterranean nations. This hardy botanical has accompanied Europeans in their migrations, and it is now found in most every part of the world.

Snake Cross-Section - Snakes, legless members of the class Reptila, throughout history have borne the weight of myths and legends that portray them as evil rather than as the benefactors of humankind. Based on their propensity for preying on small mammals including disease-ridden and economically damaging Norwegian rats and house mice, snakes should be praised, not beaten. Of the roughly 2,100 species of snakes worldwide, only 200 species carry the potential for human suffering and death in their venom.

Spiderwort Leaf Epidermis - Spiderwort is a common name for approximately 35 plants of the genus Tradescantia, which are also known as the "Wandering Jew", and are highly prized and traded for their ornamental value. The digital image featured in this section was captured from a stained thin section of spiderwort leaf epidermis tissue with the MIC-D digital microscope operating in brightfield mode.

Staminate Pine Cone - Male (staminate) pine cones are very small in size, ranging from 1 to 2 centimeters in diameter, and are produced on the same tree as the ovulate cones. The image presented in this section, captured at high magnification with the MIC-D digital microscope, is a stained thin section of staminate cone tissue, revealing an array of winged pollen grains within the fertile leaves.

Starfish Brachiolaria Larva -Larval specimens of the common starfish Asterias rubens (phylum Echinodermata) occur in the plankton among those of sea urchins, sea cucumbers, and brittle stars. A majority of the starfish species disperse exceedingly large numbers of their gametes (eggs and sperm) freely into the water in the hope of an external fertilization event.

Sycamore Stem Cross Section - The American sycamore (Platanus occidentalis; often referred to as the buttonwood or American planetree) is a hardwood tree found primarily in the eastern United States and Canada. Average height of the American sycamore is between 130 and 165 feet, and trunk diameter reaches a maximum of 10 feet. The sapwood is whitish to light yellow or reddish brown in color, while the heartwood is light to dark brown or red in color, but is sometimes difficult to distinguish.

Sycamore Stem Transverse Section - This North American native hardwood tree is a long-lived species with lifetimes often exceeding 500 years, although many trees become hollow after 200 to 300 years. The species easily propagates asexually by cuttings, and naturally, by airborne seed. Optimal growth conditions are cool, deep alluvial soils, and the tree will not adapt to acidic or marshy soils. Sycamore wood is generally either quartered or flat-sawn and is widely used as a veneer for fruit and vegetable baskets, and for indoor paneling.

Tongue Muscle Stained Thin Section - The primary function of the tongue in mammals is to provide a mechanism for taste. As a muscle, the tongue is also important as a means of creating the negative pressure necessary for infants to suckle or nurse, an exclusively mammalian activity.

Trichinella Larvae in Muscle Tissue - Worm-like Helminth parasites are generally classified into two phylia, which are further subdivided into the flatworms (Platyhelminthes) and the roundworms (Nematoda). The digital image presented in this section was captured with the MIC-D operating in brightfield illumination, and illustrates a stained thin section of human muscle infected with encysted larvae of the Trichinella spiralis roundworm.

Varroa Mite (Varroa jacobsoni) - Known as the varroa mite, Varroa jacobsoni is an ectoparasitic member of the class Arachnida found on honeybees (genus Apis). Originally described from Java in 1904, the mite was located in Hong Kong and the Philippines by 1963 and imported to the United States on infected queen bees by 1979. Now the parasitic mite has spread to most of North America except for isolated locations in Canada.

Volvox - In the division Chlorophyta (green protists), Volvox is a colonial form made up of 500 to 60,000 biflagellated cells embedded in a gelatinous wall. The largest colonies exceed one millimeter in diameter and are easily visible to the naked eye.

Zea (Corn) Kernel - Corn is the common name for the cereal grass widely grown as food for humans and animals. Along with wheat and rice, it is one of the world's chief grain crops and the largest crop grown in the United States. Native to the Americas, corn (Zea mays) is the domesticated variety of the Zea grass family, and was originally cultivated by Native Americans 8,000 to 10,000 years ago.

Zygnema Green Algae - In the world of filamentous freshwater algae (division Chlorophyta), the genus Zygnema, with its two stellate chloroplasts per cell, is a standout. Found often alongside Spirogyra, another still-water green algal genus, Zygnema species are classified as conjugate algae (phylum Gamophyta) because of their means of sexual reproduction by conjugation.

Contributing Authors

Cynthia D. Kelly, Thomas J. Fellers and Michael W. Davidson - National High Magnetic Field Laboratory, 1800 East Paul Dirac Dr., The Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, 32310.


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