Microscopy at RBGE

Orchid Ariel Root Transverse Section. Microscopy has long been an important discipline in botanical studies. This is reflected in the fact that there are, at present, some 200 light microscopes distributed throughout the Science, Horticulture and Education Divisions of RBGE.

In addition, RBGE has an Electron Microscope Suite housed in the basement of the Herbarium.

Scanning electron micrograph of goat willow pollen. Electron microscopes were first installed at the Garden in the early 1970s and the present EM Suite, created as part of a large laboratory refurbishment programme, was inaugurated by HRH The Prince of Wales in June 1993.

Find out more about RBGE's facilities:

Stereo dissector microscopeLight microscopy

The histology lab accommodates freezing and rotary microtomes and is equipped for both paraffin wax and resin embedding.

There are more than 200 light microscopes at RBGE. Many of those are the low power stereo dissectors necessary as tools for taxonomic classification. 

Research grade compound microscope

There is also a suite of research grade compound microscopes used for techniques such as phase contrast; dark field; differential interference contrast; epi-fluorescence and time lapse. The suite also houses microscopes equipped for fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH); genomic in situ hybridisation (GISH) with software for karyotyping. Images taken using light microscopy can be seen in the Light microscope image gallery.

Supra 55VP scanning electron microscopeElectron microscopy

The Electron Microscope (EM) Suite houses the LEO Supra 55VP scanning electron microscope. This state-of-the-art field emission microscope offers the option of low vacuum variable pressure for examining untreated samples. The digital image output is saved onto a server and can be accessed directly from the network.

For more information on electron microscopy at RBGE, go to More about electron microscopy. SEM images can be seen in the SEM image gallery and in the Colour SEM image gallery.

Image processing

STS has a range of facilities for digital imaging. Several microscopes have digital cameras with associated software for image processing and analysis. Colour enhanced SEM images can be seen in the Colour SEM image gallery.

Flatbed and slide scanners In addition, multi-user PCs are set up with slide and flatbed scanners to enable non-microscope users to process their data.

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