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Illinois IGB


Art of Science Gallery 04

Face of history
SR-SIM - Four laser structured illumination system

Image provided by Cassandra J. Wesseln, Surangi Punyasena Lab

Research funded by the National Science Foundation 

The gray texture seen here was created from the image of a single pollen grain of Themeda avenacea, oat kangaroo grass. High-power microscopy revealed surface texture features of the grass pollen too small to be seen with conventional methods; these features can be used to distinguish the species. Scientists can identify the presence of different plants from their pollen grains due to the innate morphological differences in their shape and surface texture. This practice allows scientists to reconstruct knowledge of past vegetation from modern and fossil pollen records.