Field of Science

Two Little Gemmae

So here they are! The long awaited and elusive Tetraphis moss gemmae. These crafty creatures can be difficult to photograph when they are tucked down inside their comfortable gemmae cups. All it takes is a little coaxing from a pair of forceps (aka. tweezers) and they will reluctantly float out into a drop of water. This pair floated together for a perfectly posed picture.

These gemmae are very small, like many moss parts. I didn't measure them, but they are definitely smaller than a millimeter. (maybe a scale bar would be good for next time) Due to their miniature stature, this photo was taken using a compound microscope. From this angle it can be seen that the gemmae are one cell thick near the edges
and several cells thick in the center, hence why the light does not shine through in that area. Microscopes are so very great! Those are individual cells that you can see in the photo, with little green chloroplasts inside of them. Chloroplasts are the organelles in the cell where photosynthesis occurs and are the structures that cause plants to appear green. The gemmae are attached to the inside of the gemmae cup via a single strand of cells. A piece of a cell wall from that strand can be seen sticking off to the right, of the gemmae on the right.

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