Tardigrades (Water Bears/Moss Piglets): 

These ambling, eight-legged microscopic “bears of the moss” are cute, ubiquitous, all but indestructible and a model organism for education

by William R. Miller

The young woman in my office doorway is inquiring about the summer internship I am offering. What’s a tardigrade? she asks…

Tardigrades, I reply, are microscopic, aquatic animals found just about everywhere on Earth. Terrestrial species live in the interior dampness of moss, lichen, leaf litter and soil; other species are found in fresh or salt water.

They are commonly known as water bears, a name derived from their resemblance to eight-legged pandas. Some call them moss piglets and they have also been compared to pygmy rhinoceroses and armadillos. On seeing them, most people say tardigrades are the cutest invertebrate.

At one time water bears were candidates to be the main model organism for studies of development. That role is now held most prominently by the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans, the object of study for the many distinguished researchers following in the trail opened by Nobel Prize laureate Sydney Brenner, who began working on C. elegans in 1974. Water bears offer the same virtues that have made C. elegans so valuable for developmental studies: physiological simplicity, a fast breeding cycle and a precise, highly patterned development plan…

(read more: American Scientist)

images: Eye of Science/Photo Researchers and Dr. David J. Patterson/Photo Researchers. Illustration at bottom by Tom Dunne, adapted from a figure by the author.

Pollen from a variety of common plants:
sunflower (Helianthus annuus), morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea), hollyhock (Sildalcea malviflora), lily (Lilium auratum), primrose (Oenothera fruticosa) and castor bean (Ricinus communis).
* The image is magnified some x500, so the bean shaped grain in the bottom left corner is about 50 μm long.
image: Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility, Dartmouth College - Source at Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility ([1], [2])

Pollen from a variety of common plants:

sunflower (Helianthus annuus), morning glory (Ipomoea purpurea), hollyhock (Sildalcea malviflora), lily (Lilium auratum), primrose (Oenothera fruticosa) and castor bean (Ricinus communis).

* The image is magnified some x500, so the bean shaped grain in the bottom left corner is about 50 μm long.

image: Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility, Dartmouth College - Source at Dartmouth Electron Microscope Facility ([1], [2])

The Body’s Ecosystem:
Research on the human microbiome is booming, and scientists have moved from simply taking stock of gut flora to understanding the influence of microbes throughout the body.
by The Scientist Staff
The human body is teeming with microbes—trillions of them.
The commensal bacteria and fungi that live on and inside us outnumber our own cells 10-to-1, and the viruses that teem inside those cells and ours may add another order of magnitude.
Genetic analyses of samples from different body regions have revealed the diverse and dynamic communities of microbes that inhabit not just the gut and areas directly exposed to the outside world, but also parts of the body that were long assumed to be microbe-free, such as the placenta, which turns out to harbor bacteria most closely akin to those in the mouth.
The mouth microbiome is also suspected of influencing bacterial communities in the lungs. Researchers are also examining the basic biology of the microbiomes of the penis, the vagina, and the skin.
Altogether, the members of the human body’s microbial ecosystem make up anywhere from two to six pounds of a 200-pound adult’s total body weight, according to estimates from the Human Microbiome Project, launched in 2007 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)…
(read more: The Scientist)
illustration by Paul Wearing

The Body’s Ecosystem:

Research on the human microbiome is booming, and scientists have moved from simply taking stock of gut flora to understanding the influence of microbes throughout the body.

by The Scientist Staff

The human body is teeming with microbes—trillions of them.

The commensal bacteria and fungi that live on and inside us outnumber our own cells 10-to-1, and the viruses that teem inside those cells and ours may add another order of magnitude.

Genetic analyses of samples from different body regions have revealed the diverse and dynamic communities of microbes that inhabit not just the gut and areas directly exposed to the outside world, but also parts of the body that were long assumed to be microbe-free, such as the placenta, which turns out to harbor bacteria most closely akin to those in the mouth.

The mouth microbiome is also suspected of influencing bacterial communities in the lungs. Researchers are also examining the basic biology of the microbiomes of the penis, the vagina, and the skin.

Altogether, the members of the human body’s microbial ecosystem make up anywhere from two to six pounds of a 200-pound adult’s total body weight, according to estimates from the Human Microbiome Project, launched in 2007 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH)…

(read more: The Scientist)

illustration by Paul Wearing

Can Hungry Microbes Save the World’s Imperiled Amphibians?
by Amelia Urry
Humans have shuffled and squelched so many different species that on the death-and-destruction scale, we rank up there with asteroids. One of our latest victims? Amphibians, which have been dying in droves since a mysterious fungal infection went global, wiping out frogs everywhere from the remote jungles of Central America to the insulated glass cases of the Melbourne Zoo.
New research suggests that the pathogen responsible for the frogs’ plague, a fungus nicknamed Bd (that’s Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis to you; “chytrid” to friends) could potentially be staved off by another group of voracious micro-predators. Whether that is enough to bring the Panamanian golden frog and its amphibious ilk back from the brink remains to be seen — but scientists are willing to try, even if that means going microscopic on ecosystem management…
(read more: Grist.org)

Can Hungry Microbes Save the World’s Imperiled Amphibians?

by Amelia Urry

Humans have shuffled and squelched so many different species that on the death-and-destruction scale, we rank up there with asteroids. One of our latest victims? Amphibians, which have been dying in droves since a mysterious fungal infection went global, wiping out frogs everywhere from the remote jungles of Central America to the insulated glass cases of the Melbourne Zoo.

New research suggests that the pathogen responsible for the frogs’ plague, a fungus nicknamed Bd (that’s Batrachochytrium dendrobatidis to you; “chytrid” to friends) could potentially be staved off by another group of voracious micro-predators. Whether that is enough to bring the Panamanian golden frog and its amphibious ilk back from the brink remains to be seen — but scientists are willing to try, even if that means going microscopic on ecosystem management…

(read more: Grist.org)

A splash of seawater 
Photographer David Liittschwager captured the little ecosystem of life contained in a splash of seawater magnified 25 times:
It’s the microscopic equivalent of the Hubble Deep Field image and worth seeing larger.
Liittschwager took the photo for National Geographic, but it also might be contained in his book, A World in One Cubic Foot, in which he took photos in locations all over the world of the life that passed through 1 cubic foot of space in 24 hours.

For A World in One Cubic Foot, esteemed nature photographer David Liittschwager took a bright green metal cube-measuring precisely one cubic foot-and set it in various ecosystems around the world, from Costa Rica to Central Park. 
Working with local scientists, he measured what moved through that small space in a period of twenty-four hours. He then photographed the cube’s setting and the plant, animal, and insect life inside it — anything visible to the naked eye. The result is a stunning portrait of the amazing diversity that can be found in ecosystems around the globe…

(via: Kottke.org)

A splash of seawater 

Photographer David Liittschwager captured the little ecosystem of life contained in a splash of seawater magnified 25 times:

It’s the microscopic equivalent of the Hubble Deep Field image and worth seeing larger.

Liittschwager took the photo for National Geographic, but it also might be contained in his book, A World in One Cubic Foot, in which he took photos in locations all over the world of the life that passed through 1 cubic foot of space in 24 hours.

For A World in One Cubic Foot, esteemed nature photographer David Liittschwager took a bright green metal cube-measuring precisely one cubic foot-and set it in various ecosystems around the world, from Costa Rica to Central Park.

Working with local scientists, he measured what moved through that small space in a period of twenty-four hours. He then photographed the cube’s setting and the plant, animal, and insect life inside it — anything visible to the naked eye. The result is a stunning portrait of the amazing diversity that can be found in ecosystems around the globe…

(via: Kottke.org)

A Mite-y Fast Arthropod
Move over, cheetah. A mite from Southern California sets the new record for world’s fastest land animal relative to body size.
by Bob Grant
A mite, Paratarsotomus macropalpis, was recently clocked at 322 body lengths per second, making the sesame-seed-size species the fastest land animal on Earth. The second-place animal is the Australian tiger beetle, which can scurry at 171 body lengths per second. Running a distant third is the cheetah, which tops out at a measly 16 body lengths per second. A human being would have to run about 1,300 miles per hour to match the mite’s body-size-adjusted pace.
Samuel Rubin, a junior at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, and colleagues announced the findings at the Experimental Biology 2014 conference in San Diego on Sunday (April 27) and in a paper in The FASEB Journal…
(read more: The Scientist)
image: THE JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY, GRACE C. WU ET AL.

A Mite-y Fast Arthropod

Move over, cheetah. A mite from Southern California sets the new record for world’s fastest land animal relative to body size.

by Bob Grant

A mite, Paratarsotomus macropalpis, was recently clocked at 322 body lengths per second, making the sesame-seed-size species the fastest land animal on Earth. The second-place animal is the Australian tiger beetle, which can scurry at 171 body lengths per second. Running a distant third is the cheetah, which tops out at a measly 16 body lengths per second. A human being would have to run about 1,300 miles per hour to match the mite’s body-size-adjusted pace.

Samuel Rubin, a junior at Pitzer College in Claremont, California, and colleagues announced the findings at the Experimental Biology 2014 conference in San Diego on Sunday (April 27) and in a paper in The FASEB Journal

(read more: The Scientist)

image: THE JOURNAL OF EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY, GRACE C. WU ET AL.

libutron

skunkbear:

Close-ups of butterfly wing scales! You should definitely click on these images to get the full detail.

I’ve paired each amazing close-up (by macro photographer Linden Gledhill) with an image of the corresponding butterfly or moth.  The featured lepidoptera* are (in order of appearance):

*Lepidoptera (the scientific order that includes moths and butterflies) means “scaly wing.” The scales get their color not from pigment - but from microscopic structures that manipulate light.

The great science youtube channel “Smarter Every Day” has two videos on this very subject that I highly recommend:

libutron
libutron:

Euglena | ©Rogelio Moreno G.
Remember the classic drawings of Euglena in Biology class when the teacher explained about the flagellate protists?
Well, this is a real Euglena as seen under the microscope. In this photomicrography you can clearly see the flagellum, the stigma (red), the nucleus (blue) with the nucleolus inside, and a couple of large chloroplasts.
Protozoa - Euglenophycota - Euglenophyceae - Euglenales - Euglenaceae - Euglena [According to ITIS]

libutron:

Euglena | ©Rogelio Moreno G.

Remember the classic drawings of Euglena in Biology class when the teacher explained about the flagellate protists?

Well, this is a real Euglena as seen under the microscope. In this photomicrography you can clearly see the flagellum, the stigma (red), the nucleus (blue) with the nucleolus inside, and a couple of large chloroplasts.

Protozoa - Euglenophycota - Euglenophyceae - Euglenales - Euglenaceae - Euglena [According to ITIS]

Daphnia! - Abundant in freshwater, conveniently for many fish and other predators, and beautifully transparent, conveniently for researchers interested in studying internal processes. Also easy to rear in the lab and highly susceptible to changes in temperature, food supplies, or dissolved oxygen content in their environment.  Read more: Encyclopedia of Life Photo: Paul Hebert via wikimedia commons

Daphnia! - Abundant in freshwater, conveniently for many fish and other predators, and beautifully transparent, conveniently for researchers interested in studying internal processes. Also easy to rear in the lab and highly susceptible to changes in temperature, food supplies, or dissolved oxygen content in their environment.

Read more: Encyclopedia of Life

Photo: Paul Hebert via wikimedia commons

Look Into The Face Of Gnathostoma Spinigerum, A Worm That Infects Eels… And People
A team of U.S. researchers found the microscopic worms in 28 percent of eels sold live in U.S. markets.
by Francie Diep
Aww, aren’t they cute? These are scanning electron microscope images of nematodes of the species Gnathostoma spinigerum. You could get these little critters from eating imported eels that are sold live in markets. Adorbs!
The images come from a new paper published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. A team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists bought 47 swamp eels of the species Monopterus cuchia from markets in Atlanta, Georgia; Orlando, Florida; and New York City’s Manhattan Chinatown. Thirteen of the eels had Gnathostoma spinigerum nematodes, which are able to infect humans when they (the nematodes) are just the right age…
(read more: Popular Science)
images: Rebecca A. Cole et al., Emerging Infectious Diseases

Look Into The Face Of Gnathostoma Spinigerum, A Worm That Infects Eels… And People

A team of U.S. researchers found the microscopic worms in 28 percent of eels sold live in U.S. markets.

by Francie Diep

Aww, aren’t they cute? These are scanning electron microscope images of nematodes of the species Gnathostoma spinigerum. You could get these little critters from eating imported eels that are sold live in markets. Adorbs!

The images come from a new paper published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases. A team of U.S. Geological Survey scientists bought 47 swamp eels of the species Monopterus cuchia from markets in Atlanta, Georgia; Orlando, Florida; and New York City’s Manhattan Chinatown. Thirteen of the eels had Gnathostoma spinigerum nematodes, which are able to infect humans when they (the nematodes) are just the right age…

(read more: Popular Science)

images: Rebecca A. Cole et al., Emerging Infectious Diseases

libutron
libutron:

Epistylis sp. | ©Rogelio Moreno G.
Epistylis is a sessile, ciliated protozoan that propagates as colonies at the ends of non-contractile stalks on the skin, and sometimes the gills, of fish. It is not a true parasite but a epibiont that utilizes fish only as a substrate for attachment [1].
They are from 200-250 um long and colonies can reach up to 2mm long [2].
Eukaryota - Alveolata - Ciliophora - Oligohymenophorea - Peritrichia - Epistylidae - Epistylis [4]

libutron:

Epistylis sp. | ©Rogelio Moreno G.

Epistylis is a sessile, ciliated protozoan that propagates as colonies at the ends of non-contractile stalks on the skin, and sometimes the gills, of fish. It is not a true parasite but a epibiont that utilizes fish only as a substrate for attachment [1].

They are from 200-250 um long and colonies can reach up to 2mm long [2].

Eukaryota - Alveolata - Ciliophora - Oligohymenophorea - Peritrichia - Epistylidae - Epistylis [4]

libutron

libutron:

Water Flea - Ceriodaphnia

Ceriodaphnia is a little fresh water crustacean (less than 1 mm), living in freshwater lakes, ponds, and marshes in most of the world [1].

Ceriodaphnia feed by filtering water with their thoracic appendages and eat any phytoplankton that drift by their carapace opening.

Besides being one of the most efficient bacteria consumers of all the zooplankton species [2], Ceriodaphnia has been suggested to be a good ecotoxicity test organism (bio-indicator) for assessing acute aluminum oxide nanoparticle toxicity in fresh water environment, due to higher sensitivity and shorter growth span [3].

Animalia - Arthropoda - Crustacea - Branchiopoda - Cladocera - Daphnidae - Ceriodaphnia

Photo credit: ©Rogelio Moreno G. | Ceriodaphnia lateral view (top) and ventral view (bottom)