Taking a closer look at Bryozoa

Over the past few weeks I have been learning the art of Electron Microscopy. As many of the characteristics Bryozoologists use to identify Bryozoa species are smaller than a millimetre in size highly magnified images can reveal hidden pores and spines. Our binocular light microscopes can magnify up to 50x magnification but a Scanning Electron Microscope can produce images which are over 1000x magnification.


The Scanning Electron Microscope (SEM)

I have been using the Natural History Museum’s LEO microscope to scan the shells. Shells are placed on a movable mount within the microscope’s vacuum chamber.  A ‘gun’ within the chamber then fires a beam of electrons at the surface of the shell. A detector then records how the electrons flow over the sample giving a ‘3D’ image of the specimen. 

 Me focusing in on a specimen before capturing an image

It has been really exciting to see Bryozoan colonies in such detail, using the SEM has revealed some beautiful images of the colonies on our shells.



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Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith