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Confocal laser scanning microscopy as a valuable tool in Diptera larval morphology studiesLarval morphology of flies is traditionally studied using light microscopy, yet in the case of fine structures compound light microscopy is limited due to problems of resolution, illumination and depth of field, not allowing for precise recognition of sclerites’ edges and interactions. Using larval instars of cyclorrhaphan Diptera, we show the usefulness of confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) for studying the morphological characters of immature stages by taking advantage of the autofluorescent properties of cephaloskeleton structures. We compare data obtained from killed but unprepared larvae with those from larvae prepared by clearing according to two commonly used methods, either with potassium hydroxide or with Hoyer’s medium. We also evaluated the CLSM application for examining already slide-mounted larvae stored in museum collections and those freshly prepared. Our results indicate that CLSM and 3D reconstruction are excellent for visualizing small, compound structures of cylrorrhaphan larvae cephaloskeleton, if appropriate clearing techniques, i.e. the application of KOH, are used. Maximum intensity projection of confocal data sets obtained from material freshly prepared and that stored in museum collection does not differ. Because of this and the fact that KOH is commonly used as a clearing method to examine the cephaloskeleton of Diptera larvae, it is possible, and highly recommended, to use slides already prepared with this method for re-examination by CLSM. We conclude that CLSM application can be an invaluable source of data for studies of larval morphology of Cyclorrhapha by way of taxonomic diagnoses, character identification and improvement in characters homologization.
A unique CO-like micrometeorite hosting an exotic Al-Cu-Fe-bearing assemblage – close affinities with the Khatyrka meteoriteWe report the discovery of a unique micrometeorite, containing an exotic Al-Cu-Fe alloy composed of two intermixed phases: khatyrkite (CuAl2) and stolperite (CuAl) and both containing minor Fe (<1.4 wt%). These phases are dendritic and rapidly co-crystallized at the binary system’s peritectic (~550 °C). The host micrometeorite is an otherwise typical S-type micro-porphyritic cosmic spherule containing relict olivine (Fo76–90, Cr2O3: 0.01–0.56 wt%, MnO: 0.03–0.32 wt% and CaO: 0.09–0.22 wt%) and a cumulate layered texture. These properties suggest the micrometeorite is derived from a carbonaceous chondrite (best matched to a CO chondrite) and entered the atmosphere a high speed (~16 kms−1), implying an origin from a highly eccentric orbit. This particle represents the second independent discovery of naturally occurring intermetallic Al-Cu-Fe alloys and is thus similar to the previously reported Khatyrka meteorite - a CV chondrite containing near-identical alloys and the only known natural quasicrystals. We did not observe quasicrystalline phases in this micrometeorite, likely due to the low amounts of Fe in the alloy, insufficient to stabilize quasicrystals. Our discovery confirms the existence of Al-Cu-Fe intermetallic alloys on chondritic parent bodies. These unusual phases require a currently unexplained formation process, we tentatively suggest this could represent the delivery of exotic interstellar material to the inner solar system via impact.