A tardigrade petri dish misadventure
At the moment your are reading issue #199 (one hundred and ninety-nine).
15 years of monthly tardigrade news - isn't that way too much?
You see, we have already gone through most of the topics one might think of: practical hints for
tardigrade microscopy, literature recommendations, the human philosophy behind the tiny life,
tardigrade anatomy, experimental carotinoid evidence in the tardigrade dry state, egg developement,
portraits of unusual species, the marine tardigrades etc.
On the other hand we are encountering new tardigrade situations from time to time
when looking through the microscope. So, why not make use of them?
Only with extreme technical restrictions it is possible to take photos of
tardigrades under perfectly natural conditions. Well, just look around in the
internet: who is actually photographing microscopic critters in their true enviroment?
The most typical tardigrades are living within a jungle of moss plants, so their activities
will be hidden anyway when looking on a moss cushion in top view.
The usual petri dish is far away from a natural situation and also the nano marine aquarium
with its 200 cm³ of sea water (our so-called "Rocharium") can't conceal
its tragical similarity to a sand grain in relation to the Sahara desert.
But without the use of petri dishes, pasteur pipettes, microscopy slides and cover
glasses we would not be able to understand the tardigrades at all.
Nevertheless one should keep in mind that some tools might turn out as the wrong tools.
Once you will have seen how a Batillipes sp. tardigrade is clinging to a glass slide
you will end up with the conclusion that glass substrates might cause problems in some cases.
As a consequence one should consider to use plastics for this particular scenario instead.
But with respect to terrestrial tardigrades we recently learnt that plastic materials
might be dangerous as well. Just have a look at the following video showing a Macrobiotus tardigrade
which is clinging to the bottom of a polystyrene coin container micro aquarium: