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‘Mite’ I add…

Flat Mite

Flat Mite

I am delighted that Dr Bauchan from the USDA has kindly allowed me to share an image that was created during a project that involved a high school intern. This is a fantastic image – now, as an electron microscopist in the materials world I have only very occasionally used false colour, and thought that biologists just did it to make images look more impressive. Well actually, the function false colour (which is useful for explaining different parts of an image) is quite common but at the USDA they attempt what you might call ‘true false colour’ – i.e. they use their powerful optical microscopes to image the pigmentation of their specimens under different conditions of light and shade and from that are able to colour-match, just like you would if you wanted a specific colour paint and went to the hardware store with your swatch of colour! It’s not quite as simple as that as you need to carefully select the correct colour for different structures, shadows and highlights and by all accounts is quite a time-consuming task. however, the results speak for themselves and I am pleased to be able to share one with you.

The image is a pseudo-colorized image of a Brevipalpus yothersi mite. This is the mite that carries the citrus Leprosis virus that is destroying fruits and trees in Southern and Central America. The movie is one of the images that was taken of the mite prior to freezing her for observation in the Low temperature SEM. So this is the “true” color of the mite that was used as our guide.

Images courtesy of Gary Bauchan, Director, Electron & Confocal Microscopy Unit, USDA-ARS, Beltsville, MD 20705

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