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Phase Contrast Image Gallery

Desmids

Desmids are fresh water algae found in ponds, swamps, and marshes around the world. The image below is a phase contrast micrograph of a desmid isolated from a sinkhole in Tallahassee, Florida.

These tiny aquatic organisms display very striking symmetrical shapes as evidenced by the photomicrograph above. Seldom are two identical desmids found, because their bodies grow in a wide variety shapes and sizes. The specimen shown here is probably a member of the Micrasterias truncata group, which displays two body halves joined at the center where the nucleus resides.

Desmids reproduce by division at the nucleus, resulting in the formation of two very similar daughter cells that contain the same DNA but have slightly differing body shapes. Most desmids contain a great many green chloroplasts that allow the organism to fix carbon from the atmosphere through the process of photosynthesis.

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