Star Filament Algae Fluorescing

Click here to see a JPEG of this microbe.


Kingdom: Protist
Scientific Name: Zygenema
Image Courtesy of: Shirley Owens
Image Width: 45 microns
Image Technology: Laser Scanning Confocal Microscopy

This is a type of algae that lives in ponds. Algae are protists that have chlorophyll, like plants do, and are thus able to make food for themselves using sunlight via photosynthesis. Many algae, such as this one, grow in long strands of individual cells strung end to end. This image shows several cells in a portion of such a strand. This image does not show the whole algal cells, but instead highlights a part of the internal structure of the algae, their chloroplasts.

This image was created using fluorescence. The algae were originally illuminated with light of a relatively short wavelength, chosen specifically because chlorophyll absorbs light at that wavelength. The chlorophyll re-emits, or fluoresces, the light energy at a longer wavelength. Since the chlorophyll in algae is gathered in its chloroplasts, it is the chloroplasts inside the algal cells that we see in this view.