Electron & Confocal Microscopy Unit
About the ECMU
The Electron and Confocal Microscope Unit provides ARS scientists and their collaborators access to state-of-the-art equipment, technical expertise, and a broad range of ultrastructural and taxonomic expertise necessary for interpreting and analyzing complex three-dimensional TEM, SEM and Confocal Microscopy data. The ECMU conducts original research related to "National Program 303: Plant Diseases", while also collaborating with ARS scientists on a broad range of other National Program projects in order to maximize the use of the equipment and facility for the benefit of all ARS scientists.
ECMU is equipped with a broad range of sophisticated microscopes including a new cutting-edge Cryo Scanning Electron Microscope (Cryo-SEM) that enables biological samples to be analyzed in their native state without the chemical artifacts characteristic of conventional SEM. The Cryo-SEM is also capable of freeze fracturing which exposes the internal anatomy of tissue for SEM analysis and is capable of Energy-Dispersive X-ray Spectroscopy for elemental analyses and mapping the spatial distribution of elements in a sample. The Cryo-SEM and tabletop SEM are both equipped with a variable pressure mode which allows imaging of fully hydrated biological samples under a low-vacuum condition with no preparation. The ECMU is also home to a high-resolution Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM) with a large magnification range from x50 to x200,000 with a resolution of 0.2nm. The Confocal Laser Scanning Microscope (CLSM) is equipped with four lasers which can spectrally detect a range of light from 390-750nm (UV through visible light to IR), and is capable of generating 3D images by optically sectioning through a sample. The Wide Field Microscope is fully motorized enabling the imaging of large format samples in brightfield and fluorescence and is capable of optical sectioning for 3D fluorescence imaging. In addition, we have a full complement of equipment for the preparation of a wide variety of biological sample types.
The ECMU provides ultrastructural and technical analysis of microscopy datasets and supports the design and presentation of research results.
|Cryo-SEM image of the predatory mite, Stratiolaelaps scimitus feeding on a Root-knot nematode took first place in the 2020 Microfauna photo contest hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) – United Nations (UN) Organization.
|Coffee Drinking Flat Mite. Cryo-SEM image of a flat mite feeding on the leaf of a coffee plant from Brazil. Award winner of the Microscopy Society of America micrograph competition at Microscopy & Microanalysis 2018 Conference.|
ECMU Research In the News
- Deadly ‘Beech Leaf Disease’ Identified Across Connecticut and Rhode Island
- What’s Killing Beech Trees?
- ARS Microscopy Research Helps Unravel the Workings of a Major Honey Bee Pest
- An Inside Look at How the Varroa Mite’s True Diet Was Discovered
- Opening a Window to an Unseen World
- PBS New Hour Livestream visits the USDA ARS Electron and Confocal Microscopy Unit
- Identifying Mites That Spread Citrus Leprosis - AgResearch - Oct 201
- Scientific Works of Art Reveal a Hidden World - AResearch - Aug 2013
- Mites from Space: Tracking a Microscopic Pest in Puerto Rico
- Of Mites and Men: A Visit to the USDA Electron & Confocal Microscopy Unit - Entomology Today
ECMU Contributions to Mite Identification and Taxonomy Tools - (Technology Transfer)
ARS researchers are encouraged to collaborate with the ECMU staff to maximize the use of the facility. Scientists are expected to present samples ready for observation and cover the cost of consumable items, including liquid nitrogen when conducting Cryo-SEM. Electron and confocal microscopy are both labor-intensive and time-consuming, so please reach out to the ECMU staff several weeks or months in advance of any anticipated microscopy projects for appropriate planning, project development, and scheduling. Due to the complexity, high costs, and large time commitment that's required for electron and confocal microscopy, all sample preparation and imaging will be handled by the ECMU staff.
Andrew Jansen - Research Entomologist
Andrew Jansen received his Ph.D. in Evolutionary Biology from Arizona State University while working in the Hasbrouck Insect Collection under the supervision of Dr. Nico Franz. Although his academic background was strictly in entomology (B.Sc. - UF) and Curculionid systematics (M.Sc. - ASU), his interest in cuticle microstructure led him to study the evolution and biomechanics of the exaggerated rostrum in the genus Curculio Linnaeus, 1758 (Ph.D. - ASU). As a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Bonn (Germany), he studied the influence of meso-scale cuticle laminate structure on the evolution of head shape in Polyneoptera. His goal as a researcher is to perform systematic study of cuticle layering patterns and to evaluate cuticle microstructure as a phylogenetically-informative character system.
As a collaborator, Andrew has provided extensive technical support and expertise on interdisciplinary teams, working with researchers whose specialties have ranged from materials science to insect taxonomy. To better meet the needs of visiting scientists and researchers at BARC, his primary interest is to develop new microscopy techniques and sample manipulation devices that will minimize sample preparation time, facilitate high-throughput imaging regardless of preservation method, and avoid destruction of valuable sample material wherever possible.
Scanning Electron Microscopes
Transmission Electron Microscopes
Transmission Electron Microscope
Transmission Electron Microscope
JEOL CX-100 (U.S. National Arboretum)
Confocal and Fluorescence Microscopes
Confocal Laser Scanning Microscope
Motorized Fluorescence Stereo Zoom Microscope
Zeiss AxioZoom V.16 + Apotome 3: Optical Sectioning
EM Sample Preparation Equipment:
Leica UC7 Ultramicrotome
Pelco BioWave Pro+
Microwave Tissue Processor
Pelco EasyGlow Glow Discharge System
Leica Critical Point Dryer CPD-300
Quorum PP3010T Cryo-SEM Prep System
Lancer Vibratome 1000 Microtome