what could it be?

Images made through a microscope. All subject types.

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Franz Neidl
Posts: 747
Joined: Wed Jan 14, 2009 11:59 am
Location: Italy

what could it be?

Post by Franz Neidl »

Today I found in the marine plancton on the surface of a microscopic red alga a little "forest". A "tree" from the forest was about 200 µm long (high).

I dont know if these are bacteria, fungi or other living organisms.
Somebody can help me?

Obj. 20x, phase contrast.



Posts: 355
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2007 10:53 am
Location: England

Post by BJ »

Hello Franz,

I am almost certain that these are hairs produced by the seaweed itself. Many red seaweeds produce colourless ("hyaline") hairs. They tend to occur in a zone behind the growing tip. Further back from the tip, they either get worn away or detach.

The uniformity of length and lack of any branching, would I think eliminate the possibility of a fungus. I think the length (200um) would eliminate bacteria. Also, the apparently healthy pigmented aspect of the alga suggests that the filaments are not parasitic.

I do not think that anyone has come up with a definitive function for these hairs - perhaps it varies from species to species. I know that in one case the hairs have been shown to increase nutrient uptake (perhaps functioning a bit like root hairs in plants). Seaweeds with a dense covering of hairs often feel quite slimey.

I find this a very attractive photo. I do not often find phase photos aesthetically pleasing, but in this case I think it works very well.

thanks for sharing,
Brian (PS at long last I have posted a reply to your pm....apologies)

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