Main content area

A benign approach to the preparation of freshwater bryozoan statoblasts for scanning electron microscopy (SEM) imaging

Mitra, R, Crawford, S, Barton, AF, Briggs, S, Orbell, JD
New Zealand journal of zoology 2013 v.40 no.2 pp. 154-159
Bryozoa, buds, chitin, drying, ethanol, freshwater, image analysis, scanning electron microscopy, sclerotization, species identification, Australia
Several different species of freshwater Bryozoa, belonging to the genera Plumatella, Rumarcanella and Fredericella, were detected within the Northern Mallee Pipeline (NMP) system in Victoria, Australia, that required definitive identification. These organisms produce asexual buds called statoblasts, with valves composed of sclerotised chitin that bear minute micro-ornamentations of considerable taxonomical significance. Imaging and analysis of these distinctive micro-ornamentations using scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is often employed for species identification. Meticulous preparation of statoblast samples is therefore required that necessitates the removal of adhering debris, dehydration and drying—whilst mitigating specimen damage and distortion. This technical note describes an approach whereby each of these three steps have been individually designed to be as benign as possible, using mild detergent/sonication to remove debris, a gradual and gentle dehydration procedure using ethanol, and critical point drying. For the overall process, these methods are chosen to optimise control and to minimise the use of harsh and hazardous chemicals.