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Oblique Illumination Digital Image Gallery

The true versatility of the unique MIC-D digital microscope design becomes apparent with oblique illumination techniques made possible by off-axis translation of the illuminator head and condenser assembly. This feature enables the microscopist to enhance contrast in specimens that would otherwise remain invisible (or nearly so) in brightfield illumination. The oblique illumination gallery contains numerous images of both stained and unstained specimens observed with off-axis lighting techniques.

American Dog Tick (Dermacentor variabilis) - The American dog tick is often the largest and most common type of tick found in localities across North America. Although it bears the name dog tick, this blood-sucking representative of the arachnids (spiders, tick, and mites) can feed on a wide-variety of mammalian hosts including dogs, coyotes, fox, skunks, cattle, raccoons, opossum, deer, squirrels, rabbits, chipmunks, and when given the opportunity, humans too.

Ancient Cnidaria Fossil - The phylum Coelenterata, also known as Cnidaria, include the marine corals, sea fans, sea pens, sea anemones, hydra, and jellyfish. Hydra also have freshwater representatives and are the exception in the coelenterate taxon since they do not exhibit a medusa or jellyfish life stage. Specialized stinging cells known as nematocysts or cnidae (thus, their alternative phylum name) are used to capture, hold, and reel in prey as well as aiding in locomotion and defense.

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 during feeding by diseased plants. When the aphid moves to the next plant host, it acts as a carrier, infecting other plants with its tainted mouthparts.

Bedbug (Cimex lectularius) - The common human bedbug, Cimex lectularius, is mostly nocturnal, spending the daytime in furniture upholstery, bed linens, and wall crevices. Although humans are its primary host, the human bedbug will occasionally feast on other mammals or chickens. Unlike many parasites depending on blood meals, the common human bedbug can live up to one year without feeding and is not known to transmit diseases.

Blood Fluke (Schistosoma mansoni) - Trematode parasites in the phylum Platyhelminthes include the internationally troublesome schistosomes that 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 captured the imaginations of geneticists involved in the World Health Organization-sponsored Schistosome Genome Project.

Brazilian Hookworm (Necator americanus) - Described as a form of helminthiasis, Brazilian hookworms are transmitted to humans via soils infected with the helminths and human feces. Treatment is recommended using an antihelminthic drug such as albendazole or oxamniquine. In Brazil, the highest risk groups for hookworm infestations via contaminated soils are preschool children and women of childbearing age. Prevention may also involve using only treated wastewater for food crop irrigation rather than raw human sewage.

Bush Tick (Haemaphysalis longicornis) - The scrub or bush tick, Haemaphysalis longicornis, is a parasitic tick commonly found on domestic animals in Australia and New Zealand. Also known as the New Zealand cattle tick, this ectoparasite of dogs, cattle, donkeys, and horses, was first introduced "Down Under" from northern Japan around 1900, but is now found throughout the Western Pacific Rim and some of the Pacific Islands including Hawaii and Fiji. These ticks are also known to infest deer, sheep, goats, pigs, and humans, as they spread throughout the 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 that often have contact 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.

Canine Hookworm - The canine hookworm larvae hatch in soil where they develop and await a passing host to infest. Either the dog ingests dirt or more commonly, the larval hookworms enter the dog by penetrating the paws. Eventually the larval hookworms migrate within the body to the lungs, ascend the respiratory tract, and eventually are swallowed. They move down the digestive system until they reach the lining of the small intestine, where they attach and feed, starting the cycle once again.

Canine Nematode (Toxocara canis) - Canine nematodes, often digestive system parasites, plague domestic dogs and other canids (wolves, foxes, coyotes, jackals), as well as other secondary mammalian hosts including humans. There are at least seven different genera of parasitic nematodes of dogs known to veterinary researchers. The most common roundworm responsible for intestinal infestations of dogs is Toxocara canis, referred to as the canine nematode.

Centipede Poison Claws - The 3,000 documented species of centipedes, along with the closely related millipede family, are members of the Myriapoda. As the subphylum's name implies, these arthropods have many more legs than the hexapods or insects. However, with a minimum of 15 pairs of legs and not the legendary 100 (or a 1,000 in the case of millipedes), the common names for their classes are largely misnomers. After the mouthparts, the poison claws or forcipules are the first modified pair of legs or maxillipeds ("jaw legs") of the centipedes.

Chara (Muskgrass) - The aquatic plants of the genus Chara are best known for the calcium carbonate deposits found along their nodes. Derived from the Greek meaning "joy", this invasive plant, also known as muskgrass, does little to live up to its name and to many, is considered a nuisance or weed.

Chinese Goat Hair Fibers - Chinese goat hair brushes, known as yang hao, are soft, flexible, and absorbent. Unlike fountain pens, ballpoint pens, and other typical Western metal-pointed writing instruments, brush pens are made from fine, soft animal hair. The quality of the lines created, whether sharp-edged or blurred, thick or thin, depends on the special characteristics of the brush pen and the hair fibers selected.

Crab Megalops Life Stage - As with other members of the phylum Arthropoda, crab species in the class Crustacea must undergo metamorphosis as they grow and mature because of the their hard exoskeletons. For most species, except for a few freshwater varieties, newly hatched crabs bear little resemblance to their parents. From the egg to mature adult life stage, the crab must undergo several transformations before displaying typical adult characteristics.

Ctenoid Fish Scales - These scales are commonly found in the majority of bony fishes (referred to as the Teleostei), and the anterior (or front) part of each scale is usually tucked behind the rear portion of the preceeding scale. As the fish grows, so do the scales, resulting in a pattern of concentric growth "rings" that increase in number with the scale size and appear similar to those found in the cross section of tree trunks. In some cases, ctenoid scale growth patterns are utilized to determine the age of a fish.

Culex Mosquito - The Culex genus of mosquitoes has a worldwide distribution and is found on every continent except Antarctica. Fourteen species occur throughout the United States and Canada. Many species of Culex are known as the "house mosquito" because these insects commonly develop in small containers around houses. The main host for Culex is wild birds, but it also feeds on a wide variety of warm-blooded vertebrates, including humans.

Deer Tick (Ioxedes scapularis) - The deer or black-legged tick, Ioxedes scapularis, is a small parasitic arachnid about the size of a sesame seed or freckle, and has made the news for about the last decade as the carrier of the dreaded Lyme disease. Named for Lyme, Connecticut, where the tick-borne illness was first identified, Lyme disease is caused by a species of bacterium that is carried by deer ticks among infected white-tailed deer, domestic animals, and humans.

Dogshark Placoid Scale - Dogfish sharks make up one subfamily of the dogfish shark family, and are characterized by a hard spine at the base of each of the two dorsal fins. Other species of the dogfish shark family that are called dogfish include the Atlantic black dogfish and the green dogfish, found in deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. The green dogfish, along with several other members of the dogfish shark family, is luminescent.

Feather - Feathers have an exquisite beauty, tenderness, and functionality that has captured the attention and imagination of people for many centuries. Almost every culture and religion has found a niche for the feather that often penetrates to the core foundation. These delicate works of nature have been utilized as personal adornments, ritual objects, decorative artifacts, and tools by almost every society since the beginning of civilization.

Fish Louse - Fish lice are ectoparasites that infest marine and freshwater fishes. Unlike other blood-sucking invertebrates bearing the common name of louse, the fish louse is more closely related to lobsters, shrimp, and water fleas than they are to insects such as the human head or body louse. However, in an analogous fashion to true lice, members of the crustacean genus Argulus pierce the skin and inject digestive enzymes into the host with a highly modified mouthpart known as a stylet. Subsequently, the parasitic insects then suck out blood, mucus, and partially digested body fluids.

Flea (Ctenocephalides) - The flea's life cycle consist of four stages: egg, larva, pupa and adult. Eggs are laid on the body of the host animal, but since they aren't sticky they can drop in any number of places. The larva resembles a small legless caterpillar and it feeds on dried excrement, dried bits of skin, dead mites, dried blood, and other organic debris.

Fruit Fly (Drosophila melanogaster) - The cornerstone experimental animal in the study of cellular and molecular genetics for over 50 years has been the ubiquitous fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster). Whether mutated to a wingless, white-eyed, or barred, phenotype, or wild, it is the fruit fly that each budding geneticist is first exposed to. More recently, Drosophila are playing a starring role in developmental biology with particular emphasis on this dipteran's embryonic stages.

Glass Wool - Glass wool, a synthetic mineral fiber, has found its way into domestic, commercial, and industrial buildings as a thermal and acoustic insulation product. Used in acoustic ceiling tiles, ducting for ventilation and air conditioning, and pipe insulation, public health questions pertaining to its suitability have raised red flags about potential cancer risks.

Grantia Sponge - Sponges, colonial animals in the phylum Porifera, are primitive invertebrates that are dominated by marine species. Typically, they are benthic, sessile filter feeders that are asymmetrical. Grantia is a genus of calcareous marine sponges that is sometimes referred to as Scypha in older texts. This group of sponges demonstrates the sycon body plan in which the wall of the colony is folded into a series of internal and external canals that circulate water to bring in dissolved oxygen and prey while removing waste products.

Hog Louse (Haematopinus suis) - The hog louse, Haematopinus suis, is an insect that is usually four to six millimeters long and is grayish-brown with dark brown and black markings. As a chewing louse, the hog louse has a wide head necessary to support the relatively large mandibles that are an essential component of its mouthparts. The male is slightly smaller than the female hog louse and is characterized by a black streak on its ventral surface.

Hookworm (Ancylostoma duodenale) Copulatory Bursa - Hookworms are voracious, blood-sucking parasites from the Phylum Nematoda (roundworms), which can usually found in the intestines of their hosts. The name is derived from the hook-like appendages of the mouth (buccal cavity), which are armed with cutting plates or large teeth for piercing the intestinal wall. There are two principal species of hookworms that infect humans: Necator americanus and Ancylostoma duodenale.

House Fly Mouthparts - The often maligned common house fly is generally thought to be a nuisance and vector for many diseases that affect both humans and animals. Flies lay up to 1000 eggs in some of the most undesirable settings such as garbage, decomposing plant and animal matter, feces, spoiled food, and manure. Although more abundant in the warm spring and hot summer weather, house flies may exist year-round in temperate climates, where their life cycles occur every eight days.

Human Head Louse - Demonstrating a near-perfect illustration of coevolution, the six legs of the head louse are adapted for efficiently grasping the person's hair shafts. Head lice infest new hosts mainly by direct head-to-head contact with infected hair, but may be transferred by contaminated combs, hats, or other hair and head accessories. For a brief period of time, human head lice can survive living freely on upholstered furniture and bedding. Children are more frequently infested than adults and louse infestations seem to have little to do with personal hygiene, sanitation practices, or socioeconomic classes.

Insect Cells in Culture - Insect cells, as with other animal cells, feature a cell membrane, nucleus, mitochondria, and other internal organelles and macromolecular assemblies. Unlike plant cells, equipped with environmentally resistant plant walls, insect cells must able to balance internal and external ionic solutions of potassium and sodium. This is particularly problematic for aquatic and wetland species that spend at least a significant portion of their life stages submerged in water, and may partially explain why marine insect species are generally lacking.

Insect Spiracles - Spiracles, specialized structures featured in the class Insecta, provide the breath of life. While the tracheae constitute the respiratory system of the adult insect, spiracles are the external apertures or openings through which gases are exchanged with the environment. Usually paired, spiracles are repeated in each segment of the thorax and abdomen, one on each side.

Jellyfish - Jellyfish are not actually fish, but rather invertebrates in the phylum Coelenterata, which also includes the hydras, corals, and sea anemones. As with the other coelenterates, jellyfish feature radial symmetry and specialized stinging cells known as nematocysts. Although almost completely marine, there are some freshwater species of jellyfish that occasionally bloom in reservoirs and lakes. Worldwide, there are about 200 different species of jellyfish that have been described.

Jurassic Dinosaur Bone - There is no need to travel to Jurassic Park or the geologic past to observe dinosaur bones under a microscope. Fossilized dinosaur bones, first discovered in Europe in the 1820s, have since been unearthed on all of the continents. The structure of the organic bone matrix is preserved, most often in sedimentary rock, through mineralization of the bone on the microscopic scale by quartz crystals and other replacement compounds of silica, calcite, dolomites, carbonates, and iron.

Lanthanum Aluminate Twinning - Lanthanum aluminate is a member of the perovskite class of ceramics, many of which are able to superconduct at liquid nitrogen temperatures. Perovskites are often characterized by large covalently bonded, closely packed cubic structures that have an atom with a significantly smaller atomic radius located at the center. When electrical fields are applied to perovskites, the smaller, central atom can shift within the crystal lattice without breaking bonds. Although not a superconductor itself, lanthanum aluminate is well adapted as an epitaxial substrate for growing thin films of related superconducting ceramics.

Merino Wool - When the question was asked of the little black sheep if it had any wool, the reply was: "three bags full". The better question may have been was it merino wool. Because of its superior shine and legendary softness, handmade rugs and fine garments woven with merino wool command the highest prices. With the average adult sheep providing about seven pounds of raw wool, a herd of 300 may yield nearly a ton of wool each year. Wool fiber has a natural stretch and elasticity that responds to the wearer's body movements.

Mosquito Larva - Mosquitoes in the genus Culex are found everywhere in the world except Antarctica. In the United States and Canada, 14 species swim and swarm, seeking to complete their life cycles with hapless abandon. Known to many as simply the "house mosquito", many species of Culex are known to breed in small, temporary water bodies including pet bowls, bird baths, and discarded automobile tires.

Mosquito Pupa - As with many other insect species, mosquitoes in the genus Culex undergo several life stages between the egg and maturity. Because of their hard, chitinous exoskeletons, insects are forced to molt as they grow. In the dramatic transformation from an aquatic larva to a flying adult, the mosquito undergoes an intermediate pupal stage.

Mouse Intestine Thick Section - Mouse intestines are very much like those of other vertebrate animals. The large intestine is wider and shorter than the small intestine and its primary function is to absorb water and electrolytes from digestive residues and store fecal matter. The word "mouse" has no meaning in scientific classification, but species of many families of small rat-like rodents are commonly referred to as mice.

Mouse Kidney - The kidney is an organ that maintains water balance and expels metabolic wastes in vertebrates and some invertebrates. Primitive and embryonic kidneys have sets of specialized tubules that empty into two collecting ducts that pass urine into a primitive bladder. The more advanced mammalian kidney is a paired compact organ with functional units, called nephrons, that filter the blood, reabsorbing water and nutrients and secreting wastes, producing the final urine.

Nitelia Algae - The wide spectrum of algae that inhibit 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 affect on the visual appeal.

Orlon Acrylic Fibers - Orlon, a synthetic acrylic fiber, was developed by E.I. du Pont de Nemours and Company (DuPont) as an offshoot of their pioneering work on nylon and rayon. In 1941, a DuPont scientist seeking a means of improving rayon devised a method of spinning acrylic polymer. Originally dubbed "Fiber A", by 1950 the trade name Orlon was adopted for spun polyacrylonitrile fibers, a material derived from polymers synthesized with natural gas, oxygen, and nitrogen. DuPont hoped that Orlon would replace wool in the marketplace.

Pectinatella Bryzoans - Resembling gelatinous detritus or aquatic plant growth on submerged sticks and other substrates, bryozoans are primarily marine, but are also found in freshwater rivers and impoundments. Commonly referred to as the moss animals, these sessile colonial creatures were thought to be plants similar to their ecological analogs, the corals, until the mid-1700s. Of the thousands of species worldwide, one class, Phylactolaemata, is found exclusively in fresh water. Known as the jelly blobs or simply "blobs", Pectinatella magnifica is a relatively common North American freshwater species of the phylum Ectoprocta.

Pinworm (Enterobius vermicularis) - Pinworms, as their common name implies, are tiny pin-shaped nematodes known as Enterobius vermicularis to the medical and zoology communities. Also called seatworms or threadworms, the small, whitish roundworms are responsible for contagious intestinal parasite infestations that commonly inflict preschool children and other crowded settings such as nurseries, schools, and hospitals.

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 sea water where these red algae thrive.

Rocky Mountain wood tick (Dermacentor andersoni) - Restricted in habitat to the Rocky Mountains in the United States and southwestern Canada, the Rocky Mountain wood tick's life cycle may require between two and three years for completion. Although adult ticks feed primarily on large mammals, including humans, the larval and nymph forms feast on small rodents. As with most tick species, D. andersoni requires a blood meal before developing into its next life stage. During feeding as a larva or nymph, ticks may become infected with the R. rickettsii bacteria.

Sheep Ked Fly - The sheep ked, Melophagus ovinus, a wingless, bloodsucking fly is often misnamed the "sheep tick" because it resembles a large tick. However, as with the other members of the class Insecta, the sheep ked features only six legs and not the requisite eight of the ticks and fellow arachnids.

Sea Sand - Whether it's the brilliant white "sugar" sands of Panama City Beach, Florida or the black dunes of Punaluu, Hawaii, sand makes the beach. Sea sand mavens know that not all sands are created equal. What appears as "white sand" to the uniformed varies dramatically in shape, composition, and refractability. Annually, the best beaches are ranked by 50 criteria with the top five relating to sand quality. Fine sand is ranked the highest, as is soft sand, while beaches of cobble or hard sand are valued much lower.

Simulium Species - The bane of moose and man, blackflies of the genus Simulium (order Diptera:family Simuliidae) are known to have made many humans and animals jump in nearby lakes up to their necks to avoid blood-letting bites. As a cruel irony to outdoors aficionados, only the most pristine, well-oxygenated streams grow large hordes of blackflies, and not those tainted with pollution. From the remote New York Adirondack Mountains to the roaring streams of New Zealand, Simulium is the most diverse blackfly genus with almost 1,200 species arranged in 42 subgenera throughout all the zoogeographical regions of the world.

Sodium Chloride (Table Salt) Grains - Salt has been used by mankind before recorded history as a mineral of paramount importance in regulating health, as well as in seasoning food. Sodium chloride, or common table salt, is the most familiar of the salt compounds. Also known as halite, or rock salt, this mineral forms when water evaporates from saline basins.

Spiders - Representatives of the class Arachnida, spiders are found worldwide with about 35,000 known species (4,000 in North America), but less than one percent are dangerous to humans. Even with such impressive numbers, it is estimated that only 20 percent of the spiders of Australia are scientifically catalogued and some arachnologists estimate there may be as many as 170,000 undescribed species worldwide. As insectivores, spiders are valuable to farmers, feeding regularly on agricultural pests.

Springtails - Primitive insects, springtails are minute, wingless members in the order Collembola. As the common name implies, springtails can leap or spring using a forked tail-like structure known as a furcula. A 5-millimeter springtail can jump up to 100 millimeters in one bound. Many springtails are beautifully colored and display a beautiful array of metallic greens, lavenders, and reds, but because of their minute size, largely go unnoticed.

Termites - In the insect order Isoptera, termites rule the roost. The scientific name refers to the two pairs of equal length wings featured by reproductive adults. Although socially advanced like ants, termites are closely related to the more primitive cockroaches. There are at least 2,750 recognized species placed in 285 genera worldwide, with most tropical or subtropical in distribution.

Trichuris Whipworms - Whipworms, members of the rather large genus Trichuris, are intestinal parasites having about 60 species that infect mammalian hosts. Two common species, the human whipworm (T. trichiura) and canine whipworm (T. vulpis) display a relatively high degree of host specificity, with canine whipworms only rarely occurring in humans.

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.

Water Flea (Daphnia) - Water fleas (more commonly known as Daphnia) are microscopic crustaceans, belonging to the order Cladocera, that populate the quiet waters of lakes and ponds throughout the world. Most species are found in freshwater habitats, but a few occur in marine environments. Daphnia has a discrete head bearing antennae and a bivalve carapace that encloses all or most of the trunk and abdomen.

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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