Field of Science

Moss Microforay Part 1: Assorted critters

Posting and attempting to identify own micrographs is a quick and easy way to fill up blog posts when one is short on time. Aside from all the time spent at the scope and processing the images (ImageJ, baby!) of course. At least there's no expiry date on these, unlike hot new topics which need to be blogged within an hour else the entire blogosphere will scoop you, somehow...

Moss was sampled on a coastal mountain on the San Francisco peninsula. As the sampler is a labrat and therefore not particularly sample-savvy, said specimen was abandoned for three weeks only to be rehydrated a couple days prior to imaging. Thus, there is a high probability that much of the really cool stuff died off before I got around to it. Conversely, some of that cool stuff may be damn good at encysting, and is now perhaps freshly-excysted.

Saving the Euglyphids for the next installment. Mwahaha. Let's go over an assortment of random non-Euglyphid organisms first. It would be nice to get some help with ID from the experts lurking here *wink*

Ok, first off -- flagellates. That is, glimpses of the few flagellates that weren't moving so ridiculously fast they were but a blur on the picture. There seemed to be a lot of bicoesid-like loricate things (or vaguely look like them anyway):

That cell may have been damaged somehow, or is it actually being amoeboid-ish? Can bicoesids do that? My understanding is they tend to be rather rigid, but I'm not aware of any other loricate flagellate besides Dinobryon and choanoflagellates. This thing is definitely neither of those.

This specimen appeared attached along the length of the flagellum at the top of the picture.

This one looks more like a bicoesid. As do the next three:

This one too, probably, though the lorica can't be seen. There are aloricate bicoesids as well.

Bicoesids are actually borderline suitable for microphotography with a slow camera due to their habit of attaching to things. Seriously, sessile organisms are really nice that way...

More potentially cool flagellates that were moving around too much to get a decent shot:

This was a sequence following a strange amoeboflagellate-looking thing(s) -- any idea what this may be? A cercomonad of sorts?

Same cell(s) in all of the images. Was shot in a short timeframe (maybe a minute or two), so highly doubtful that cell divison could've occured within that time. Or maybe not?

Amoebozoan time! May ever try ID'ing some...before doing that, I feel compelled to draw your attention to Smirnov & Goodkov 1999 Protistology, a wonderful overview of and reference for amoeboid morphotype diversity -- amoebae do have shape! Another good source for ID'ing amoebae is Smirnov & Brown 2004 Protistology, and an associated site (though sadly not maintained since 2003ish =( ); I will be relying on those to see how far I can go:

This one seems to be flabellate with adhesive uroidal filaments; may be Flabellula (something off about that), Stachyamoeba (perhaps? esp. this picture); Rosculus seems to lack prominent uroidal filaments as well as seemingly a Heterolobosean from what I've gathered. Could also be of the fan-shaped morphotype but those don't seem to leave trailing adhesive filaments that much. I'll go with Stachyamoeba for now, hopefully no one finds that offensive...

Ok, the next one is probably polytactic or dactylopodial by morphotype.

Candidates: Amoeba (too small), Chaos (doesn't seem multinucleate and huge), Deuteramoeba, Thecochaos (not wrinkly enough), Polychaos (something meh about that too). As for dactylopodial candidates, Paramoeba is looking better, as is Korotnevella. As the former is much more commonly mentioned, I'll go with Paramoeba for this one.

By the way, the prominent round thing in the middle is most likely the contractile vacuole; note how it obvious changes size during optical sectioning, especially in the first specimen. Also, amoebae aren't always amoeboid -- many species take upon 'floating forms' which tend to look like spiky balls. Some amoebae are apparently quite at ease with being planktonic too, like this vicious rotifer-munching Difflugia mentioned earlier.

Amoebae can actually move pretty quickly -- this one is fuzzy due to motion blur.

Morphotype: Lens-like (Smirnov & Brown 2004); candidate: Cochliopodium (and here). Really does look like Cochliopodium; perhaps I got at least one right!

A few more fun amoebae:

In the last one, note how the clear pseudopodia emphasising the contrast between ecto- and endoplasm -- the latter being fairly gelatinous and containing the 'stuff' of the cell; the former, full of actin, responsible for cell motility.

Arcellid amoeba: (proteinaceous test -- note texture)

Odds and ends: First off, ???:

What I think might be a developing nematode egg case (elsewhere there were very similar things with nematodes inside):

Some fungal thing? (germinating spore?)

And last but not least for today, a bacterial filament:

Ok, back to cramming...stay away, internet! Must know everything there is to know about invert biol by Monday...aaaah~! Also, apparently metazoan phylogeny is in about as much of a mess as the the Tree of Eukaryotes. Kind of creepy...


  1. Bacterial filament could be a Lactococcus. It's coccoid, forms chains, and can be found on plants. There's probably a lot of other things it could be, but that's the first one that comes to mind.

  2. Thanks! I don't even bother IDing bacteria by morphology...although background knowledge about the ecology and ubiquity of those things would probably help a lot.

    Beginning to really appreciate bacteria though - apparently, they also have intricate cell structure and organisation (and differentiation and all that other "eukaryotic" stuff...) =D

  3. ID-ing bacteria based only on morphology is a little like ID-ing vegetables based only on color.

    "It's Green, must be a Cucumber."
    "No, sorry, Kale!"

    That said... if you know morphology, growth conditions, sample location, etc, you've got a pretty decent chance of narrowing it down quite a ways.


Markup Key:
- <b>bold</b> = bold
- <i>italic</i> = italic
- <a href="">FoS</a> = FoS