Title
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Marine Botany

Pseudo-nitzschia Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)

Scanning electron microscopy can magnify images to an extent that is impossible with light microscopes. There is also a greater range of magnifications that one can utilize (see below). Since the finer details of a frustule can be visualized by using SEM, the taxonomy of diatoms has drastically changed in recent years.

Check out the Collection & Study section to see more about microscopy!

The following scanning electron micrographs were taken using cultures of Pseudo-nitzschia australis and Pseudo-nitzschia multiseries. Bleach was added to the samples in order to break open the frustules. Before visualization, the samples were washed, centrifuged (pellet was extracted), and dried onto a carbon-covered collecting chip.

When compared to the photos taken using light microscopy, it is easy to see the superior magnification and clarity afforded by the scanning electron microscope. However, it is still extremely difficult to observe the differences in the two species of Pseudo-nitzschia. In reality, the differences between the species of this genus are minute and are usually given in terms of measurement differences (of the apical axis, transapical axis, presence of central nodule, etc.).

Pseudo-nitzschia australis

 1400x

Pseudo-nitzschia multiseries

1400x

2800x 

2800x 

10,000x 

10,000x 

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copyright Jennifer Shin 1999.

Last updated: Feb. 05, 2009