Lichen suspensions as growth media

  • Lakshminarayan Iyer

For some time now, I have been completely bowled over with lichen suspensions (1,2,3). You never know what surprise you’d get. I suppose, it would be so for mosses too.  All I do is to drop a lichen scraping in a small petridish with about 5 ml of bottled water and follow it for days, weeks, and months. Now sometimes I might just forget about it entirely as  in this petridish and lo and behold to my utter surprise I get a “pure culture” of a Bdelloid rotifer. This movie was taken after almost 5 months of starting the culture with intermittent re-addition of water to prevent drying out. Below is a 40x scan of the petridish under my compound microscope. Notice how the rotifers are thriving along with other ciliates and bacteria. I dont have to worry about growing rotifers anymore and I have plenty for making permanent slides and studying life-cycles (more on that in future posts).

And so last week, I started a new batch of about 3 petridishes from three different lichen scrapings. My next post will be on foldscope observations of these.

I am going to follow the plates regularly to study the progression of life. Along the way, I am going to culture some of these ciliates/rotifers/nematodes. Come join me in my hunt for life found in lichens, scrape a lichen, set it in RO/distilled/bottled water, get it going and share your observations.

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