Monday, January 30, 2012

Hair Root

The root of hair ends in an enlargement (referred to as a hair bulb) that is whiter in color and softer in texture than the shaft of hair. The hair root is lodged in the hair follicle.

Image courtesy 20th US edition of Gray's Anatomy of the Human Body.

Hair is composed of a strong structural protein called keratin. This is the same kind of protein that makes up the nails and outer layer of the skin. 

Hair root captured using the Jenoptik C14+ microscope camera.

Hair transplant surgeons place a high importance on the integrity of naturally occurring hair follicle units to find improved methods of hair graft harvesting, dissection, grading and transplantation. Studies have concluded that there is a measured increase in the yield of follicular unit grafts and the total amount of hair harvested from the donor strips when technicians use dissecting microscopes as compared to magnifying loupes with trans-illumination. You can view hair transplant dissecting microscopes here.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Aspergillus (Mold!) under the Microscope

Aspergillus consists of several hundred mold species found in various climates worldwide. First catalogued in 1729 by the Italian priest and biologist Pier Antonio Micheli, the fungi when viewed under the microscope reminded him of the shape of an aspergillum, or holy water sprinkler.

This image of Aspergillus was captured using a biological microscope and the ProgRes Jenoptik C5 microscope camera. You can be the judge as to whether or not this reminds you of a holy water sprinkler!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Glands under the Microscope

Glands are organs in a mammal's body that synthesize a substance for release such as hormones or breast milk. These substances are often released into the blood stream (endocrine gland) or into cavities inside the body or its outer surface (exocrine gland).

Image of gland lumen captured under a biological laboratory microscope with the Jenoptik C14+ microscope camera.

  • Endocrine glands secrete their products through the basal lamina and lack a duct system.
  • Exocrine glands secrete their products through a duct and include one of three secretory products:
1. Serous glands selecrete a watery, often protein-rich product.
2. Mucous glands secrete a viscous product, rich in carbohydrates (also known as glycoproteins).
3. Sebaceous glands secrete a lipid product (also known as oil glands).
      Glands are classified by their shape. If the gland retains its shape as a tube throughout it is termed a tubular gland. If the portion of the gland where it secretes is enlarged and the lumen increase in size, the gland is termed alveolar or saccular.

      Tuesday, January 17, 2012

      Chamomile under the Microcope

      Matricaria Recutita or German Chamomile (also spelled camomile) is an annual plant that is sometimes referred to as a "weed" that looks somewhat like a daisy. German Chamomile is used in herbal medicine for sore stomachs and is commonly found in herbal tea and essential oils. A relative of ragweed, chamomile can sometimes cause allergic reactions.

      Image of German Chamomile courtesy of Joaquim Alves Gaspar.

      Cross-section of Matricaria Recuitita captured with a Jenoptik CF microscope camera using a biological microscope.

      Monday, January 16, 2012

      Vitamin C under the Microscope

      Vitamin C (also known as L-ascorbic acid) is an essential nutrient for humans and animals. Ascorbic acts as an antioxidant, protecting the body from oxidative stress. It is absorbed by the body through both active transport and simple diffusion. Scurvy is a deficiency in Vitamin C and results in brown spots on the skin, soft gums and bleeding from mucous membranes. The human body can only store a certain amount of Vitamin C, so if new stores are not replenished, scurvy results. Vitamin C is found in high concentrations in immune cells, hence the suggestion to "drink orange juice" with the onset of the common cold. Consuming too much Vitamin C can result in indigestion and diarrhea.

      Vitamin C captured at 200x magnification using the MT9300 polarizing microscope and the Infinity 2-3 microscope camera.

      Vitamin C captured at 200x magnification using the MT9300 polarizing microscope and the Infinity 2-3 microscope camera.

      Vitamin C captured at 400x magnification using the MT9300 polarizing microscope and the Infinity 2-3 microscope camera.

      Vitamin C captured at 400x magnification using the MT9300 polarizing microscope and the Infinity 2-3 microscope camera.

      Friday, January 13, 2012

      Paramecium under Microscope

      Paramecium is a slipper shaped ciliate found in oxygenated aquatic environments feeding near vegetative matter. Paramecia are unicellular microorganisms belonging to the protoctist phylum Ciliophora. Members of this phylum (ciliates) are characterized by their external covering of continuously beating, hair-like cilia.

      Paramecium captured under a fluorescence microscope with the Jenoptik C3 microscope camera.

      Paramecium are heterotrophs. Their common form of prey is bacteria. A single organism has the ability to eat 5,000 bacteria per day. Paramecium also feed on yeast, algae and small protozoa. They may eject trichocyts when they detect food, in order to capture their prey. These trichocyts are filled with proteins and are sometimes also used in self defense.

      Thursday, January 12, 2012

      Peppermint under Micoscope

      Peppermint is made up of Mentha and Piperita - it is a hybrid mint that is a combination of watermint and spearmint. The plant, indigenous to Europe, is cultivated throughout the world. Peppermint was first described in 1753 by Carolus Linnaeus from specimens he had collected in England.

      The peppermint plant grows 12-35 inches tall, with smooth stems, square in cross section. The leaves are dark green with reddish veins.

      Peppermint image courtesy of Aleksa Lukic.

      Peppermint has a long tradition of medicinal use. With a high menthol content, it is often used as tea and for flavor in confections, gum and toothpaste. The aroma of peppermint has been found to enhance memory.

      Mentha Piperita (peppermint) image captured using a Jenoptik CT3 microscope camera.

      Wednesday, January 11, 2012

      Paramecium Tetraurelia

      Paramecium tetraurelia is a very large (120 micrometers) eukaryotic cell covered with vibrating cilia. It is a unicellular organism. Paramecium is an organism which is both unicellular and complex, making it an excellent model for the genetic study of numerous differentiated functions in multicellular organisms often absent in simpler eukaryotes such as yeast.

      Image of cilia of the paramecium tetraurelia captured with Jenoptik C3 microscope camera. The cilia are the tentacles and cover the cell completely enabling the organism to swim and capture its food, consisting mostly of bacteria.

      Tuesday, January 10, 2012

      Gypsum under the Microscope

      Microscope World recently had a client interested in viewing the quality of their gypsum powder under a digital microscope. Gypsum is a very soft sulfate mineral composed of calcium sulfate dihydrate. It is found in alabaster and is the second softest mineral on the Mohs Hardness Scale. The word gypsum is derived from the Greek word gypsos, "chalk" or "plaster." Gypsum has also been called plaster of Paris because it comes from quarries of the Montmartre district of Paris.

      The gypsum powder looks like this. It is sold to drywall manufacturers. The gypsum powder was placed on a microscope slide in order to view the individual crystals.

      40x magnification.
      All Gypsum crystals were captured using the Digital BA210 microscope.

      100x magnification.

      400x magnification.

      1000x magnification. 
      You can learn more about gypsum here.

      Friday, January 6, 2012

      Sunflower Pollen under Microscope

      Helianthus is a genus of plants comprised of 52 species, all of which are native to North America. The Helianthus Annuus (sunflower) was cultivated in Europe. Sunflowers grow anywhere from 20 inches to 12.75 feet tall. The flowering heads follow the sun, going from east to west throughout the day.

      Photo courtesy of Jon Sullivan.

      In the early 16th century sunflower oil became a widespread cooking ingredient. Leaves of the sunflower were used as cattle seed and stems contain a fiber that was used in paper production. Helianthus pollen is a fine and coarse powder that will be left on your hand if you brush it across the center of a sunflower.

      Image of Helianthus pollen captured with a fluorescence microscope using the Jenoptik CT3 microscope camera.