Scanning Microscopy


The purpose of the present paper was to describe the use of a commercially-available, and relatively inexpensive, beam and image deflection unit that can facilitate digital X-ray (element) mapping in a standard transmission electron microscope not furnished with a STEM attachment. The test specimen was a thin freeze-dried section of the metal-sequestering chloragogenous tissue from the earthworm, Lumbricus rubellus, inhabiting a soil naturally contaminated with Pb, Zn and Cd. Qualitative maps obtained from this material confirmed the efficacy of the deflection unit, and revealed the presence of three compositionally distinct metal-accumulating compartments within the chloragocytes: (i) ovoid, electron-dense, phosphate-bearing and Ca-, Pb-and Zn-containing chloragosomes; (ii) relatively electron lucent, morphologically featureless, Cd-and S-rich "cadmosomes"; an extremely electron-dense compartment lying close to individual chloragosomes, containing high concentrations of Ca, Pb and Zn but deficient in P. Azo dye histochemistry indicated that the chloragogenous tissue did not contain either diffuse or focal acid phosphatase activity. The possible relationships of the three metal-sequestering compartments to each other and to the lysosomal system was discussed.

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