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Proceedings Paper

Use of fluorescence and scanning electron microscopy as tools in teaching biology
Author(s): Nabarun Ghosh; Jessica Silva; Aracely Vazquez; A B. Das; Don W. Smith
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Paper Abstract

Recent nationwide surveys reveal significant decline in students' interest in Math and Sciences. The objective of this project was to inspire young minds in using various techniques involved in Sciences including Scanning Electron Microscopy. We used Scanning Electron Microscope in demonstrating various types of Biological samples. An SEM Tabletop model in the past decade has revolutionized the use of Scanning Electron Microscopes. Using SEM Tabletop model TM 1000 we studied biological specimens of fungal spores, pollen grains, diatoms, plant fibers, dust mites, insect parts and leaf surfaces. We also used fluorescence microscopy to view, to record and analyze various specimens with an Olympus BX40 microscope equipped with FITC and TRITC fluorescent filters, a mercury lamp source, DP-70 digital camera with Image Pro 6.0 software. Micrographs were captured using bright field microscopy, the fluoresceinisothiocyanate (FITC) filter, and the tetramethylrhodamine (TRITC) filter settings at 40X. A high pressure mercury lamp or UV source was used to excite the storage molecules or proteins which exhibited autofluorescence. We used fluorescent microscopy to confirm the localization of sugar beet viruses in plant organs by viewing the vascular bundles in the thin sections of the leaves and other tissues. We worked with the REU summer students on sample preparation and observation on various samples utilizing the SEM. Critical Point Drying (CPD) and metal coating with the sputter coater was followed before observing some cultured specimen and the samples that were soft in textures with high water content. SEM Top allowed investigating the detailed morphological features that can be used for classroom teaching. Undergraduate and graduate researchers studied biological samples of Arthropods, pollen grains and teeth collected from four species of snakes using SEM. This project inspired the research students to pursue their career in higher studies in science and 45% of the undergraduates participated in this project entered Graduate school.

Paper Details

Date Published: 1 June 2011
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 8036, Scanning Microscopies 2011: Advanced Microscopy Technologies for Defense, Homeland Security, Forensic, Life, Environmental, and Industrial Sciences, 803613 (1 June 2011); doi: 10.1117/12.883925
Show Author Affiliations
Nabarun Ghosh, West Texas A&M Univ. (United States)
Jessica Silva, Eastfield College (United States)
Aracely Vazquez, Eastfield College (United States)
A B. Das, Orissa Univ. of Agriculture & Technology (India)
Don W. Smith, Univ. of North Texas (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 8036:
Scanning Microscopies 2011: Advanced Microscopy Technologies for Defense, Homeland Security, Forensic, Life, Environmental, and Industrial Sciences
Michael T. Postek; Dale E. Newbury; S. Frank Platek; David C. Joy; Tim K. Maugel, Editor(s)

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