Through The Looking glass

A sampling of microscopic photographs of things overlooked in the day to day...

(click photo to enlarge)

  • file format converted from original BMP...thisis a plant root tip.These cells are known collectively as meristem cells.They are un-differentiated plant cells.That is to say,their types are un defined in this state ,and the plant will change them later become any part or type of cell within the plant as a whole.These are the equivalent of stem cells in human and animal biology.

  • This is a cross section of a plant root and is here described by my microscope.The telling feature here is the differentiation which occurs through the structure by the cell forms.Note the transition of cell types from the external root covering through the root center to become the transport structures known as Xylem and Phloem.


  • This is a cross section of a plant root,and illustrates,at a glance,the concentric layering of specialized cell formations.Differentiation of cell type follows function,transcending then,from outer protective root covering, through the de-nucleated cells which comprise the vascular transport structures within the root itself.

  • In this photo,a yellow filter has been employed through the light path of the microscope to enhance the contrast of structures within the specimen.Note the composition of Floem and Xylem structures.These comprise the principal vascular tranport system,and allow for the movement of fluids through the plant.

  • This shot was cropped to emphasize the outer boundary zone between root wall and the internal "plumbing" structure of the root.Note the morphing changes in cell type ,and cell density here.

  • This is a high magnification using an oil between the microscope lens and the slide surface.I have used a yellow filter as well.I am focused on the cells which are forming components in the root wall-in the boundary region of this plant root.

  • Yellow filter used here in the light path of the microscope,again,as an aid in bringing out contrast.

  • Note that a blue stain has been used in the initial preparation of the specimen for slide preparation.Stains are used to make component structures in the specimen visible.The root structures are not actually blue...or green,for that matter,but are merely false- colored for the benefit of observational contrast level.

  • I simply love the rich green colors here...a combination of the blue dye on the specimen,and my use of a yellow filter lens on my microscope.


  • This photo is of the same plant root specimen,but i have used a software program to cycle the colors and shapes with their respective negative values.I do this ...all,for the benefit of enhancing small and varied details of the specimen.Note that here,not only the colors are negative,but the object vs. space relationship is actually askewed.

  • This shot is a high magnification of a small section of this same plant root cross section.close examination shows how the contrasting dye lays into the geometry of the cell structures.

  • This is also a highly magnified observation of individual structures within the plant root.Here i have used an immersion ouil to fill the tiny space between the slide and my microscope lens.This technique reduces two surfaces into one surface...essentially minimizing the excess rfraction of stray light from around the slide surface...enhancing clarity.

  • This slide provides a good example to discuss the cell differentiation.The structures which comprise most of the interior of the root were cells which lost their inards.That is to say...the plant causes these cells to shed their nucleai and the rest of their internal cell organells so that only the semi-rigid cell membranes remain.Touching end to end,and stacked upon one another,the"hollowed out" cells become a permeable tubed system.

  • Yellow filter,low magnification of full cross section of plant root.


  • In this photo,this is a slide of the cross section of a pine tree needle ,or leaf,as it technically is.It is slightly false-colored to enhance structural contrast.

  • This specimen comprises the type of ceels which are found in both a plant root as well as plant shoots.These cells are speciallized,in that they can become whatever type of cell which the plant needs them to be.These are known as Meristem cells and are similiar to Stem cells within our own biology.

  • This specimen of plant Meristem cells are found at the root tip.Here ,my focus was on the cell nuclei,in particular.The cells are just large enough top observe the chromosomes inside of the cell nuclei.I have played with lighting intensity and contrast to illustrate the transitions along the progress of cell division in motion.

  • A close observation at this high magnification of Meristem cell nuclei will illustrate the varied progress during the mitosis process.Note some nuclei unremarkable,while others indicate the separation of paired chromosomes within the nucleus.the action of the Mitotic spindle formation within some nuclei is evidenced by the separation into distinct paired groupings of the cell chromosomes.Look closely.

  • False- colored,contrast adjusted,high magnification of Plant Meristem cells,some in early stages of Mitosis(division).

  • Plant root tip Meristem cells seen here in situ-basicly waiting for the cue to push on and further the growth and specialized differentiation of the structure of the root they comprise.

  • This is another high magnification of the nucleus of a plant Meristem cell.In this photo  the separation of the chromosomes within the cell nucleus is clear...this cell was in progress of splitting to become two cells(Mitosis).

  • This is a false- color magnification of a cross section of a pine tree root.

  • Pine tree root cross section,false -colored for enhanced resolution of Xylem, and Floem structures within.

  • Beautifully false-colored latitudinal cross- section of a Zea plant seed.Notice the amazing details of the cellular differentiation throughout the changing structural forms and demands of the seed structure.Note how differential cellular matrix absorbs different stains added to the specimen-allowing for very striking separations.

  • This is also the Zea seed cross section,but I have focused in this photo on the separations of form and fun ction closer to the outer seed wall.

  • illustrations of Zea plant seed boundary differentiations.

  • zea seed boundary cellular differentiation .

  • Zea seed Latitudinal cross section.

  • Microscopic Protist(animal )Euglena...dressed with Methyl stain...otherwise it would be nearly invisible.If you look closely,you can discern this animals means of locomotion...a single whip-like tail,very thin,almost as long as its' body.This structure is common in varying forms in a few types of Protists and is known as Flagella.

  • Different forms of Bacteria...dressed with stain to make them visible.This common strain of Bacteria is what would be living on a variety of everyday surfaces in our homes.Each one of these Bacteria are approximately 1 micron in length,or 1/25,000 of an inch.

  • Paremecium...colored with a stain...Protists,tiny,near invisible,and propelled by a full body ring of short Flagella

  • close up of another Protist

  • This is a Paremecium...and in this image,the faint recognition of the ring od tiny flagella,or cilliua as it could be called in this arrangement,is just barely visible.With this the Paremecium propell themselves.

  • This is a tiny insect,that dark spot is not an eye,but constitutes its' tiny nervous system,as seen through a nearly transparent body.

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