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Pollen research not be sniffed at

CSIRO Media Release – 7 October 2011
Palynologists (pollen scientists) at the Australasian Pollen and Spore Atlas at ANU are working with CSIRO image analysts to train the 'Classifynder', an automated pollen microscope from Massey University in New Zealand, to identify and classify Australian pollen grains. Minimal human intervention is required. Light microscope images of daisy pollen (family Asteraceae). Daisies are mainly insect pollinated as suggested by the pollen grains' spiky shape. Spikes help pollen stick to insects' bodies.

Image credit – Carl Davies, CSIRO

Image credit – Australasian Pollen and Spore Atlas
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1 in 5 Australians suffer from hay fever each year often caused by wind-borne pollens from plants such as She-oak and grasses. Wattle is often incorrectly blamed for causing hay fever, however its pollen is too heavy to be carried by the wind and is most commonly pollinated by insects and birds. The microscope images of wattle pollen grains, shown in the top right, were automatically captured by the Classifynder microscope purchased from Massey University, NZ. Scanning Electron Micrograph of Wattle (Acacia boormanii) pollen grains. The image has been coloured artificially ('false colour') to highlight the shape and features of the pollen.

Image credit – CSIRO

Image credit – Roger Heady, ANU Centre for Advanced Microscopy
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Bees use their furry bodies to trap pollen. This Scanning Electron Micrograph shows the tiny hairs at the base of a bee's antenna covered with pollen grains. The image has 'false colour'. Pollen is shown in orange.

Image credit – Roger Heady, ANU Centre for Advanced Microscopy
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More high-res images available on request – sarah.wood@csiro.au, 0423 350 515