Senckenberg Museum of Natural History Görlitz


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VIRMISCO – The Virtual Microscope Slide Collection

Development of standards for the photographic documentation of permanent microscope slide mounts in precarious mounting media

"The scientifically motivated digitisation of cultural heritage materials is considered standard,
not a technical novelty."

DFG-Practical Guidelines on „Digitisation“ 02/2013funded by DFG: DFG XY 12/6-1

Digitisation allows science rapid access to research objects while conserving the originals. The linkage of diverse online resources creates a virtual research infrastructure that provides completely novel opportunities for science. To optimise their use in research and to ensure comparability, digitised materials should be produced under the same (documented) conditions. This requires the definition of standards for digitisation. For transparent to semitransparent three-dimensional microscopic objects, such as microinvertebrates or microscopic pieces of fungi, plants or other animals, the definition of standards is still in its initial stages. In this project we are developing standards and recommendations for taking microscopic images of 3D objects. We therefore recommend as a standard for the digitalisation of three-dimensional objects in permanent preparations of soil organisms: (1) series of photographs with different focal planes (z stack); (2) using a microscope with motor focus; (3) at least one photograph with scale bar and measure of length; (4) bright-field microscopy, especially differential interference contrast microscopy (DIC); (5) the following metadata should be documented: creator of photographs, creation date, producer / type of microscope, producer / type of camera.


The image stacks can be viewed in a 'virtual internet microscope'
Virmisco – The Virtual Microscope Slide Collection,
which enables the user to focus online through the object
as if using a real microscope.
Additionally, the viewer offers features such as rotating, zooming,
and measuring, changing brightness or contrast as well as
downloading complete z-stacks as jpeg files or video file.



The benefits of Virmisco:

  1. Virtual access to collections
    for taxonomic studies, like type material: Loans might become obsolete and prevents material – especially old and fragile one – from damage and loss.

  2. New way for taxonomic publishing:
    the deposition of z-stacks in VIRMISCO in addition to the description will be a more comprehensible and objective documentation of the studied objects.

  3. Education and taxonomic training
    since it constitutes a virtual reference collection.

Virmisco  provides more then 4.700 image stacks of ca. 172 taxa and more than 354 types from collection material of the Senckenberg Museum of Natural History Goerlitz; Acari (Gamasina, Uropodina, Oribatida), Collembola, Myriapoda (Diplopoda, Chilopoda, Pauropoda), Nematoda, Plathelminthes, Tardigrada, Insecta (Diptera).


Dr. Axel Christian, Phone: +49(0)3581-47605201
Dr. Peter Decker, Phone: +49(0)3581-47605203



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last update: 09/17