Meiji Techno UK has announced that the British Antarctic Survey (BAS) has selected Meiji microscopes for its recent research expedition to Spitsbergen.
In August 2010, BAS researcher Dr Kevin Newsham took his research programme to the Natural Environment Research Council's research station at Ny-Alesund on Spitsbergen to find out whether or not leafy liverworts - a type of lower plant similar to mosses - are colonised by symbiotic fungi.
His previous work in the Antarctic has shown that several species of leafy liverworts are colonised by the same fungi that grow into the roots of higher plants and improve their growth, often by enhancing the uptake of nitrogen from soil.
However, the occurrence of these fungi in Arctic ecosystems has not been documented, and the first step to determining their presence was to visit Kongsfjorden (Kings Bay) in West Spitsbergen to sample leafy liverworts.
The liverworts were sampled from several locations in Kings Bay and identified in the field by the use of a x20 magnification hand lens.
Newsham specifically selected the Meiji EMZ-5TR zoom stereo binocular dissecting microscope with a Meiji FT191 dual-arm fibre-optic illuminator as the external light source to identify the liverworts.
The equipment was chosen because of its rugged, ergonomic design and is good value for money.
The microscope and light source are situated in the laboratory of Harland House, the NERC's station.
The higher magnification (up to x200) provided by the dissecting microscope was necessary in order to visualise features that characterise specific genera of leafy liverworts.
Ten genera were identified, including Cephaloziella, Lophozia and Barbilophozia - which also occur in the Antarctic - and others, including Tritomaria, Odontoschisma and Aneura.
The leafy liverworts were transported to the UK, either dried or as fresh material, where they are to be stained and examined by epifluorescence microscope for the presence of fungal structures in their tissues.
Further analyses, based on extracting DNA from liverwort tissues, the PCR amplification of fungal DNA and subsequent identification of the fungi present in the plants by analysis of DNA sequences, will take place in spring 2011.