Under the Microscope!
Thanks to our friends at Battery Park City Parks for videos of our compost under the microscope.
This video is from Rookie’s Quesadilla Solstice and shot at 400x. In the shot is a flagellate (another general type of protozoa) feeding on bacteria. Much smaller than the ciliate we shot in the Coco’s Breakfast compost, yet still a powerful force in cycling the nutrients held in the bodies of the individual bacteria in the compost or soil. In this shot there are many little strands of fungal hyphae too. They are the translucent cylindrical pieces with parallel lines for their edges and internal cross walls that divide up the hyphae in to sections, called septa. Biologically active compost can have 400-900 feet of fungal hyphae per teaspoon!
The video from Coco’s Breakfast is of a very large ciliate feasting on the bacteria around a piece of organic matter. Ciliates are one general type of protozoa that are found in composts and soils. This shot is at 200x. You can see how quickly it’s moving and eating, meaning it needs a lot of food to keep up with this level of activity. Lots of bacteria being eaten and energy being expended (respiration). After the ciliate eats the bacteria it releases the leftovers as waste material in to the soil. This “waste material” that the ciliate releases is rich in nitrogen and can be used to feed the next generation of bacteria or be used by plants. This byproduct is plant available nitrogen!