OK, this is supposed to be a blog about microbiology, but I could not resist putting up some more pictures of critters inhabiting the local rock pools. In a comment on my post on a field guide for microbes, I mentioned a PLoS ONE paper describing an add-on lens for a smartphone that makes it function as a 350x microscope, which is very cool. The pictures here are made using a macrolens add-on for my iphone, which only magnifies 10x (to be increased with the inbuilt zoom function) and so does not visualize the microbial world but still is great. It is actually a set of three lenses but I mainly use the macrolens. (I since found out there are several relatively cheap microscope add-ons for the iphone available, these go up to 100x; I will definitely get one of those). Some iphone pics below:A pregnant male worm pipefish Nerophis lumbriciformis (two rows of eggs in a groove on the belly).Zooming in on the eggs.The colony-forming Bryozoan Sea Mat Membranipora membranacae encrusting a sea weed. The Star Ascidian Botryllus schlosseri. Successive close-ups of the ascidian Botrylloides leachi (next time I will bring a ruler into frame for a better sense of scale, the top picture is one or two cm wide if I remember correctly). Each individual zooid has its own inhalant siphon, and shares an exhalant siphon with others zooids in the middle.
I am sometimes wondering whether I could combine my interests in microbial ecology and marine biology. It is now quite straightforward to sequence the microbes present on or in macrobes. A lot of invertebrate microbiomes have already been sequenced (including those of Ascidians) and can reveal for instance what bacteria are responsible for the production of secondary metabolites associated with these animals. However, this is probably not a project simple enough to do ‘on the side’. I must also confess I do not have interesting ecological or evolutionary hypotheses to test yet and I would not want to do a merely descriptive study. Still, something to keep in the back of my mind when rock pooling.
P.S. for more posts like this, see my rock pooling/snorkelling/aquarium keeping blog An Bollenessor