The work was funded by grants from the Biomaker 2017 and OpenPlant 2018 funding rounds and the work was carried out by Jennifer Deegan and Tim Deegan.
Jennifer has been interested in gametophyte fern photography since working in this area as an undergraduate with Malcolm Wilkins at the University of Glasgow. Since then she has worked on plant development at the John Innes Centre, and at the Department of Plant Sciences in Cambridge, and in Ontology development and computer programming at EMBL-EBI.
All of this experience came together recently when she entered the area of electronics and programming for biology in the 2017 Biomaker challenge. Her low budget, deep focus microscope design was created and built together with her software engineer husband Tim Deegan, and with help from the forum members at www.photomacrography.net. It worked well, and they went on to win the Biomaker spirit trophy.
Fern gametophytes are very beautiful structures, but are difficult to photograph, because of issues with depth of field in high magnification photography. The microscope (shown below) enables a camera to take many photographs of a gametophyte fern, while moving in tiny, micron scale, increments towards the subject. The focused areas of each photograph are then cut out and amalgamated into one single focused image.
The microscope was initially built as part of the Biomaker challenge grant. Following on from this, as part of the OpenPlant grant, Jennifer has created documentation in written and video format to show how others can make a complete working copy of her microscope. If you would like to know more about this, please watch the videos or write to Jennifer for further information.
Source: University of Cambridge