ICBR Customers Make Strides in Conservation

Published: February 15th, 2016

Category: All News, Announcements, Electron Microscopy, Featured News

Michael Kane, professor of environmental horticulture at UF/IFAS has been a long-time user of the ICBR Electron Microscopy Core.

In 2014, he and his doctoral student Hoang Nguyen came to the EM lab with a project focused on the endangered ghost orchid, which would come to have massive implications for the field of conservation.

The EM lab began helping the pair through a project consultation. “We always listen to what the PI and techs bring to the table, and modify based on our experience with previous projects,” Kim Backer-Kelley, EM Lab Technician said.

Kim also provided Hoang with training on ancillary equipment important to his project, such as the light microscope, the critical point dryer, the sputter coat, and the Scanning Electron Microscope, the Hitachi SU5000.

ICBR’s SEM, “is the only field-emission SEM on the UF campus that can process biological samples as well as other materials,” Backer-Kelley said. This was instrumental as Nguyen was monitoring the ghost orchid seeds at different stages of germination and growth. Because of the large magnification this SEM can achieve, Nguyen was able to obtain highly detailed images throughout the growing process.

With these images, they were able to develop a method to increase the survival and re-growth rates for lab-grown seeds replanted into their native environment.

Since then, Kane and Nguyen have reintroduced 80 ghost orchids into their native South Florida habitat; 70 have survived.

The study has already been recognized for its success. Currently, it is being considered for publication, and Nguyen won the outstanding research poster contest at last June’s meeting of the Society for In Vitro Biology.

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