Student Research Projects

SEM imaging of fungal colonies in-situ: a comparison of substrates and growth conditions

Student Tanya Puccio '15
Faculty Mentor(s)
Department Biology
Course BIO 489 : Research in the Natural Science


Neurospora crassa, a common, orange-colored bread mold, is a widely-used model organism for studying fungal biology, as well many general aspects of eukaryotic cell biology. The entire genome is sequenced and there is an international effort to obtain single mutations in each of the 10,000 or so genes contained within its genome. One of the current areas of focus is on the genetic control of fungal growth and colony development. We are exploring the use of scanning electron microscopy to examine the growth patterns of normal (wild type) and mutant strains known to exhibit aberrant growth. The superior resolution and depth of field provided by scanning electron microscopy can provide insights that may help to reveal and/or explain the physical effects of a genetic change effects that would not be visible using light microscopy. In order for any meaningful comparison of mutant growth to be made with wild-type, it is essential that a system be developed that allows for easy and reproducible growth. Here we compare the growth of wild-type and two mutants on cellulose, glass fiber and polycarbonate membrane filters of varying porosity and texture. We conclude that polycarbonate filters with a pore size of 5 microns or greater produce superior images and will be the medium of choice in future studies.