Saturday, 8 October 2016

Saturday night at the microscope

On our foray near Northchapel last weekend we found the miniscule perithecia (round fruiting bodies) of a fungus called Lasiosphaera ovina. Nick Aplin suggested these would be worth looking at under the microscope, so I took a tiny sample home.

I had a look at them under the stereomicroscope first, to get a good look at those perithecia.

Then I took a single perithecium not more than half a millimetre across – and tried my best to crush it onto a microscope slide. I added a drop of water and dropped a cover slip on top.

Cue much faffing around trying to see something – anything! – down the microscope.

I eventually focussed in on this, which looks like a tangle of... something.

I then added a drop of immersion oil and, very gingerly, swung round to the 100x objective. After much more faffing around during which, thankfully, no cover slips were broken, I eventually focussed in on this...

Some long things with little round things in.

After some concerted Googling and scanning through papers I don't understand, it looks like these might be a match for the ascospores* of L. ovina, which is a good sign. If you squint a bit, they do look kind of like the image in figure 9 of this paper.

So, er... That was interesting.

*Ascospore A sexually produced fungal spore formed within an ascus** of an ascomycete.
** Ascus –  The sac-like structure in which ascospores are formed.

For the record
Collection date: 2/10/2016
Location: Private site near Northchapel

Record will be submitted by Nick Aplin on behalf of Sussex Fungus Group

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