web analytics

You say amoebae and I say amoebas

I’ve written about my microscopy habit before (actually, go read that post instead — it’s got lots of cool links and stuff), but I was going through some old photos and disk and found this montage of amoebas and it brought a tear to my eye.

It took me twenty years to get an amoeba, no lie. And I wanted one so badly.

See, my mother used to talk about her professor in nursing school who had a hay infusion that was decades old. One drop from that was so full of critters, she said, it was more protozoa stew than pond dip.

So I was, like, “right. Got that. The secret is old.” And I made aquariums full of stinky, crusty, nasty hay and bean infusions and nursed them along for months at a time.

These things went through a predictable cycle, even if I fed them fresh ingredients. At the start, I’d get all sorts of interesting, active, sparky protozoa. Then it would degrade to bacteria and boring wormy things. Then it would die and smell like it.

Sooo eventually I rigged up a jar on a string, went out to a local pond and did a proper pond dip. And got an amoeba, first try! I was so excited!

But the next day I was supposed to fly home and visit the folks for two weeks. Arrgh! I did the best I could to preserve it; I put the sample in a bowl in the basement (cool and damp), covered it and hoped for the best.

When I got back, first slide…dozens and dozens of amoebas. Bloody things had been dividing and subdividing for a fortnight. It was one of the happiest days of my life.


Oh, god.

May 17, 2011 — 10:58 pm
Comments: 27