Lurid cupola-moss (Cinclidium stygium)

This moss was found carpeting the rocks and the granite banks of the Glencree river in the Wicklow mountains. Mosses fall under the taxonomic division of Bryophyta and do not exhibit a vascular structure. Instead, they possess a simpler mechanism for the distribution of water.

Cinclidium stygium is a species of moss that is found in wetland habitats in many parts of the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia. It belongs to the family Amblystegiaceae and is known for its distinctive appearance and habitat preferences. Cinclidium stygium is a small moss, usually no more than a few centimeters tall, that forms dense mats in wetland habitats, such as bogs, fens, and wet meadows. It has a unique structure, with leaves that are curled back on themselves, giving the plant a ruffled appearance. The leaves are dark green and can be up to a centimeter long, and are arranged in dense spirals around the stem.

Cinclidium stygium is an important component of wetland ecosystems, playing a crucial role in regulating water and nutrient cycles. Like other mosses, it can absorb large quantities of water, helping to retain moisture in the soil and prevent erosion. It also serves as a habitat and food source for a variety of small invertebrates, such as insects and snails, that are important components of wetland food webs.

In addition to its ecological importance, Cinclidium stygium has been used in traditional medicine for a variety of purposes, including as a treatment for diarrhea and as a poultice for wounds and skin irritations. However, like many other wetland species, it is vulnerable to habitat destruction and other forms of human disturbance, and its populations are threatened in many areas. Conservation efforts are underway to protect wetland habitats and the many species, including Cinclidium stygium, that depend on them for their survival.

Cinclidium stygium moss samples were collected from the rocks and banks of the Glencree river in the Wicklow mountains during the wonderful summer of 2021.

Off the beaten track, this has got to be one of the most beautiful and peaceful, and one of the last remaining natural wildlife habitats in Ireland.

x600 Focal stack of Cinclidium stygium. Birefingent colours in the cell walls, polarisation microscopy.

x600 Focal stack of Cinclidium stygium. Birefingent colours in the cell walls, polarisation microscopy.

x1,200 Focal stack of Cinclidium stygium. Differential interference contrast (DIC) microscopy.

x400 Focal stack of Cinclidium stygium. Birefingent colours in the cell walls, polarisation microscopy.

x400 Focal stack of Cinclidium stygium. Darkfield + Polarisation microscopy.

x600 Focal stack of Cinclidium stygium. Birefingent colours in the cell walls, polarisation microscopy.

Close-up of a leaf from Lurid cupola-moss (Cinclidium stygium) showing the large rectangular and hexagonal cells packed with chloroplasts and their cell walls exhibiting birefringence colours.

Packed with chloroplasts, we see the mono-layer of cells of a leaf from Cinclidium stygium. Magnified over 400 times, the image is focus stacked captured in DIC.

Packed with chloroplasts, we see the mono-layer of cells at the tip of a leaf from Cinclidium stygium. Magnified over 400 times, the image is a focus stacked fusion of DIC and compensated polarised light.

Magnified over 400 times, this is a focus stacked image captured in compensated polarised light in darkfield. Notice how cell walls orientated in a particular direction appear to glow in the same colour. The colour is derived from the birefringence exhibited by the cellulose.

Packed with chloroplasts, the cellular surface of the the moss leaf, Cinclidium stygium, magnified over 400 times.

Close-up of a leaf from Lurid cupola-moss (Cinclidium stygium) showing the large rectangular and hexagonal cells packed with chloroplasts and their cell walls exhibiting birefringence colours.

Close-up of the margin of a moss leaf.

Canadian Pondweed (Elodea canadensis)

Elodea canadensis or Canadian pondweed as it is better known is a perennial aquatic plant found in slow moving water channels and ponds. Because of its relatively large cells it is a great subject for observing the process of cytoplasmic streaming under the microscope.

Leaf tip of a Canadian Pond Weed Elodea canadensis

leaf of Canadian Pond Weed - Mid-edgeElodea canadensis

Central leaf of Canadian Pond Weed Elodea canadensis

When polarized light is passed through a sample of plant tissue, the light waves become polarized in a single plane, and if the sample contains birefringent structures, such as cellulose microfibrils, the light waves are split into two components that travel at different speeds and in different directions. When the two components of light recombine, they can interfere with each other, creating a characteristic glow or pattern that can be observed under a microscope set up for polarisation.

This property of birefringence and the resulting glow in polarized light can be used to study the structure and organization of plant cell walls and other biological materials, as well as to identify and differentiate different types of tissues and cellular components. This technique is known as polarized light microscopy, and it is commonly used in many areas of biological research, including plant anatomy and physiology, cell biology, and materials science.

Leaf tip of a Canadian Pond Weed Elodea canadensis

The tip of a Canadian pondweed (Elodea canadensis) leaf is typically pointed and slightly curved, with a smooth edge that is finely serrated. The leaf tip can be green to slightly reddish in colour, and is usually the youngest and most actively growing part of the leaf. In aquatic environments, the leaf tip is an important site for photosynthesis, as it is exposed to the greatest amount of light. The leaf tip also contains cells that are specialized for rapid growth and reproduction, making it a key location for the plant's physiological processes. The shape and appearance of the leaf tip may vary depending on the age of the leaf and the environmental conditions in which the plant is growing.

Cyclosis in Canadian Pond Weed Elodea canadensis

Observed under the microscope, we can witness the fascinating phenomenon where motor proteins, seen as diffraction spots, 'walk' along the dynamic and intricate network of cytoskeletal filaments, ferrying chloroplasts within the cells of Elodea canadensis.

Leaf tip of a Canadian Pond Weed Elodea canadensis

The tip of a Canadian pondweed (Elodea canadensis) leaf is typically pointed and slightly curved, with a smooth edge that is finely serrated. The leaf tip can be green to slightly reddish in color, and is usually the youngest and most actively growing part of the leaf. In aquatic environments, the leaf tip is an important site for photosynthesis, as it is exposed to the greatest amount of light. The leaf tip also contains cells that are specialized for rapid growth and reproduction, making it a key location for the plant's physiological processes. The shape and appearance of the leaf tip may vary depending on the age of the leaf and the environmental conditions in which the plant is growing.

A magnified portion of a leaf showing the cells and the green specks that reside inside - the chloroplasts, where within at a much deeper level the magic of photosynthesis happens through quantum mechanics. Energy from photon hits (E=hf) initiates a cascade of reactions beginning with an electron excitation in the CH ring surrounding the magnesium atom in chlorophyll.

Cyclosis in Canadian Pond Weed Elodea canadensis

Observed under the microscope, we can witness the fascinating phenomenon where motor proteins, seen as diffraction spots, 'walk' along the dynamic and intricate network of cytoskeletal filaments, ferrying chloroplasts within the cells of Elodea canadensis.

Wonderful autumn-colours in a leaf of Canadian pond weed. Cell walls 'glow' in polarised light because of birefringence exhibited by the molecular structure.

Wonderful autumn-colours in a leaf of Canadian pond weed, reinforced through compensation.

Charophyte (Green Alga) - Spirogyra

Spirogyra is a filamentous alga, name for the helical arrangement of chloroplasts within its cells. It is found in fresh water habitats often seen as green slimy patches on the ground, stagnant ponds and puddles and in slowly moving streams as in the photos below.

A slimey mass of Spirogyra cloaks a bed of Sphagnum moss.

Mass of Spirogyra Swaying in a Stream

Masses of Spirogyra Swaying in a stream on a trail that leads down to Lough Dan, Co. Wicklow

Batrachospermum

Batrachospermum is a genus of red algae, also known as Rhodophyta, that is commonly found in freshwater habitats such as streams and rivers. This genus is characterized by its filamentous thallus, or body, which is composed of a series of interconnected cells. The filaments of Batrachospermum have a distinctive red color, which is due to the presence of pigments such as phycoerythrin and phycocyanin.

Batrachospermum

Batrachospermum collected from the a fresh water bog habitat.

Batrachospermum

Batrachospermum is important in aquatic ecosystems as a primary producer, and it can form large, complex mats or colonies on rocks and other substrates. It is able to thrive in a wide range of environmental conditions, including low light levels and high levels of nutrients, and is often used as an indicator of water quality in ecological studies.

Batrachospermum

The cells of Batrachospermum are elongated and cylindrical in shape, with rounded ends. The cell walls are thin and delicate, and they are composed of cellulose and other complex polysaccharides. The cells contain a central vacuole, which is filled with a solution of water, ions, and other cellular components. The cytoplasm of the cells contains chloroplasts, which are responsible for photosynthesis and the production of energy for the cell.

Batrachospermum

Batrachospermum is important in aquatic ecosystems as a primary producer, and it can form large, complex mats or colonies on rocks and other substrates. It is able to thrive in a wide range of environmental conditions, including low light levels and high levels of nutrients, and is often used as an indicator of water quality in ecological studies.

Desmids

Desmidiales (Desmids) are an order in the phylum Chlorophyta (green algae). Some desmids are divided in to two semi-cells by a constriction. They exhibit 3-planes of symmetry with an incredible diversity of shapes. The cellulose of many species are ornamented with granules, spines or wart like protuberances arranged in complex, yet orderly and symmetrical patterns. They are coated in a clear jelly like substance called mucilage.

Collecting Desmids from a Sphagnum pond

Pleurotaenium sp.

Pleurotaenium desmids forming large colonies several centimeters across.

Pleurotaenium sp.

Pleurotaenium is a genus of freshwater green algae that belongs to the family Desmidiaceae. This sample was found in a small Sphagnum pond in bogland in the Dublin/Wicklow mountains. Its semicells are rectangular in shape and have a smooth surface. The isthmus that connects the semicells is straight and narrow, giving the cell a "butterfly" or "bowtie" shape.

Pleurotaenium sp.

Pleurotaenium is a genus of freshwater green algae that belongs to the family Desmidiaceae. This sample was found in a small Sphagnum pond in bogland in the Dublin/Wicklow mountains. Its semicells are rectangular in shape and have a smooth surface. The isthmus that connects the semicells is straight and narrow, giving the cell a "butterfly" or "bowtie" shape.

Pleurotaenium and filamentous Zyngema algae

Focus stack captured using a combination of bright field and fluorescence microscopy.

Micrasterias sp.

Micrasterias is found in a variety of freshwater habitats, such as ponds, lakes, and rivers, and is often seen floating near the surface of the water. This particular sample was collected in a bog habitat in the Wicklow mountains.

Micrasterias sp.

Micrasterias is a genus of freshwater green algae belonging to the family Desmidiaceae. It is commonly known as the star-shaped desmid because of its distinctive shape, which is characterized by two semicircular lobes that form a star-like structure.

Micrasterias sp. among Spirogyra

Micrasterias americana

x400 DIC Focus stack

Micrasterias sp.

This photograph of a Micrasterias sp. of desmid was captured at 400x using phase contrast microscopy.

Micrasterias sp.

This photograph of a Micrasterias sp. of desmid was captured at 400x using phase contrast and polarised light microscopy.

Closterium

The photograph captures a Closterium desmid, magnified 400 times, floating against a deep blue backdrop. Its crescent shape, characteristic of this single-celled algae, is elegantly outlined, showing its fine internal structures and a shimmering chloroplast that accentuates its vivid green hue. The contrast between the desmid's delicate contours and the serene blue background creates a mesmerizing and almost ethereal visual effect in the microscopic space.

Micrasterias sp. among Sphagnum leaves

This photograph of a Micrasterias sp. of desmid was captured at 400x using phase contrast and polarised light microscopy.

Micrasterias sp. among Sphagnum leaves

Sphagnum moss provides a unique habitat for a wide range of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, protists and in this case, Desmids.

Euastrum sp.

Euastrum is a genus of freshwater green algae belonging to the family Desmidiaceae. Like other desmids, Euastrum is unicellular and its cells are enclosed by a cell wall made of cellulose.

Micrasterias sp. adhered to a Sphagnum leaf

This focus stacked image was captured at 200 times in Darkfield microscopy.

Lemna trisulca

Lemna trisulca, also called star duckweed or ive-leaved duckweed, is a species of aquatic plants that can often be seen floating on the surface of ponds among Lemna minor. Unlike Lemna minor and other duckweeds, its leaves do be submerged beneath the waters surface.

Lemna trisulca

The floating aquatic plant, ive-leaved duckweed (Lemna trisulca), magnified 100 times.

Lemna trisulca

The floating aquatic plant, ive-leaved duckweed (Lemna trisulca), magnified 100 times, in compensated darkfield polarised illumination.

Freshwater Cyanobacteria

Gloetricha

In this photograph of Gloetricha, a type of cyanobacteria, captured using differential interference contrast (DIC) at 200 times magnification, the filamentous structure stands out with remarkable detail. The image showcases a network of thread-like filaments, each consisting of a series of distinct cells. The DIC technique provides a striking contrast and a subtle three-dimensional quality, emphasizing the delicate textures and boundaries of the cells.

Gloetricha

The photograph shows Gloetricha, a type of cyanobacteria, captured using differential interference contrast (DIC) microscopy at 400 times magnification. The image reveals intricate filamentous structures with striking clarity and depth. Each filament is composed of a series of interconnected cells, creating a vibrant and detailed pattern against a softly illuminated background. The DIC technique enhances the texture and contrast, highlighting the nuanced gradients within the cyanobacteria. The result is a captivating depiction of these microscopic life forms, with the subtle play of light and shadow lending a sense of three-dimensionality to the composition.

Blue-Green Algae

Timelapse movie show the movement of blue-green algae. The locomotion of this algae is thought to result from the secretion of mucus slime...