Mold, bacteria biofilm, parasite, or something else?

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dtownes
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Mold, bacteria biofilm, parasite, or something else?

#1 Post by dtownes » Wed May 22, 2019 10:02 pm

I joined this forum because I need some help identifying the microorganism in the images below. Quick backstory -- about a year ago I bough an Amscope T600C with phase contrast kit and 8MB camera attachment to investigate microbes in the environment in my house, mainly because some family members were struggling with health problems and no one could figure out the cause (and 1 year later still no one has figured it out, although we moved to a different state and are now living in a completely different environment, the health problems still pop up from time to time). I had no background in microbiology and no experience with microscopes, but I'm great at teaching myself things and I was desperate so I decided to give it a try.

Over the past year, I have sampled all kinds of things and gradually gotten better at documenting my findings. At first, I had no idea what I was looking at, so I just took lots of pictures with plans to return later and look for patterns of unusual findings. Recently I started to notice such a pattern, so I wanted to see if anyone on this forum can help me identify what I'm seeing and give me an indication of whether it's actually anything unusual. Pardon the image quality since I still hardly know anything about what I'm doing around a microscope.

I've attached several images of the same microorganism that have shown up in saliva samples of my family member when they have been unwell. The pictures are from 3 separate samples taken over the last year, and for one of the samples I took images at different magnification levels (3a, 3b, 3c). For samples 2 and 3 the saliva was allowed to dry an evaporate on the slides, whereas sample 1 was a wet slide with a cover slip because I wanted to try to catch to microorganism alive and in action. Samples 1 and 2 were taken with a 40x phase contrast objective, and I believe the camera magnifies things by 40x, which I think means it's magnified 1600x. Sample 3a was taken with a 10x phase contrast objective, 3b a 40x phase contrast objective, and 3c a 100x phase contrast objective, again with the same camera.

I also took a video of sample #1 that showed some bacteria-like wormy things swimming slowly in the vicinity of this microorganism (although no movement was evident in the main body, perhaps because my sample collection process killed it), but the video is too large to post (about 100MB). It sort of looked like the tentacle-like appendages of the main organism had separated into independent bacteria-like strands, but they could have been a separate set of organisms that just happened to be nearby.

I've tried to find comparable images online, but the closest I was able to find was something like the mold Chaetomium, and that's not a perfect match. The observation of bacteria-like behavior in the vicinity made me wonder if it might be some sort of biofilm colony. Intuitively just looking at the images makes me think about some form of parasite, but what does my intuition know.

Any thoughts, resources, or guidance would be greatly appreciated. Also, if no one has ideas but has some recommendations of other places to post this question, I'd love to hear that as well.
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SunshineLW
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Re: Mold, bacteria biofilm, parasite, or something else?

#2 Post by SunshineLW » Sun Jun 23, 2019 12:59 pm

This does not look like any parasite that I have ever seen. It poorly resemble some flagellate parasites (ex., Tritrichomonas, Giardia); however, for this to be a protozoa, it would be need to be hundreds to thousands of times smaller. Of course, I have no doubt that there are undocumented monsters out there in the world. You are welcome to search my parasite image database for free: https://www.veterinaryparasitology.com

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75RR
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Re: Mold, bacteria biofilm, parasite, or something else?

#3 Post by 75RR » Sun Jun 23, 2019 1:24 pm

I've attached several images of the same microorganism that have shown up in saliva samples of my family member when they have been unwell.
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Roldorf
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Re: Mold, bacteria biofilm, parasite, or something else?

#4 Post by Roldorf » Sun Jun 23, 2019 1:46 pm

Looks to me like some kind of mold or fungus spore. There are billions of these floating around in the atmosphere including the ones we like to eat. Most people are not affected but some are sensitive to certain spores myself included.

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Roldorf
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Re: Mold, bacteria biofilm, parasite, or something else?

#5 Post by Roldorf » Sun Jun 23, 2019 2:01 pm

I lived in Cambodia for over three years which has a very hot and humid climate. There were lots of black mold on the buildings and during the summer there were thunderstorms and rain every day. Just before the rain came I would start to sneeze and have a runny nose with some shortness of breath caused by an allergic reaction to the spores. After I returned to Europe with it's drier climate I had no more problems, unless I am searching for mushrooms with my wife (which we study), when I sometimes start to sneeze, depending on which mushrooms are around at the time.
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