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The Roving Microscope – Fieldnotes #1

Danielle's wormery

In this first glimpse of the microscopic life in Danielle’s wormery, we can already see so much happening! After placing one drop of a sample from the wormery (mostly made up of worm poo, bedding, and decomposed food waste), under the microscope, we counted around 25 nematodes, and thousands of bacteria, and protozoans jiggling and whizzing about.

A microscope image of an omnivore nematode from Danielle's wormery (magnified by 100x)

A microscope image of a bacterial feeding nematode (magnified by 400x)

Nematodes are microscopic worms, about 1mm or less in length. There are lots of different kinds of nematode; you can roughly identify them by their mouthparts. These two nematodes eat bacteria and fungi and are, therefore, really beneficial to compost and soil, helping to cycle essential nutrients and turn them into a form that plants can absorb (mineralisation).

A microscope image of a nematode digestive system (magnified by 400x)

A microscope image of testate amoebas (magnified by 400x)

The testate amoeba (also pictured) do the same by grabbing plugs of organic matter and bacteria and digesting them with their enzymes. Sometimes you can see the digested bacteria inside the guts and bodies of nematodes and amoebas. Catch the next instalment from the Roving Microscope here!