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Microscope for bacteria and yeast - (Jun/10/2011 )

I am interested in deepening my research in the microbiology of kombucha

I will make some equipment purchases this summer and wanted to get some direction on what types you think might be the best fit. I need the right kind of microscope to identify and count the different strains of both yeast and bacteria in both the liquid and solid (SCOBY/ mother culture/ zoogleal mat/ kombucha mushroom) of kombucha.

Because there are so many specialized types of microscopes, and I'm not experienced in microbiology yet, which type would be ideal (Brightfield, Darkfield, flourescent, phase-contrast, polarizing, etc). What would you recomend? I also want to video monitor through a computer so I can view and save images.
I have no previous experience with microscopes. Any help is appreciated!

Also, if you could recomend any books or manuals (geared towards teaching oneself) how to identify and count both yeast and bacteria from liquid and solid samples, that would be very helpful. Thanks so much!


Unless you have an awful lot of money, you will only be wanting a basic model of microscope - something with lenses up to 100x magnification for the objective lens and 10-20x at the eyepeice. Do not buy a cheap no-brand microscope as these typically have terrible optics and you will not be able to do the things you want to. I would go and have a look at the Olympus, Leica, Nikon and Zeiss websites for basic teaching microscopes and techniques. The 'scopes will start at about $2000 and work up from there depending on what you want. Phase-contrast will add a further $1000 or so per lens and Normarski/DIC will add a few thousand more. Fluorescent microscopes are horrendously expensive - expect to be paying $20,000 or more! Camera addition will add quite a bit more too, usually several thousand, unless you can get a model that will port your own camera.

Bacterial and yeast/fungal indentification is not so simple as looking down a microscope - there are lots and lots of bacteria and yeast that look identical down the microscope. To properly identify you will need to know about such things as Gram staining, selective media, morphology and (probably) genetics, as much of the identification these days is done by molecular techniques. You should read a book such as Brock's "Biology of Microorganisms" for some basics.