Trichomes (hairs) on the seed of the common tomato

Trichomes (hairs) on the seed of the common tomato
Date:8 March 2011 Tags:

Tomato seeds have hair. Not the ordinary, dead protein that hangs limply off human scalps. These trichomes secrete an insect-repelling, flavour-inducing mucus that helps give tomatoes their signature taste while acting as a natural bug spray. Robert Rock Belliveau took this photo of a 2-mm x 3-mm tomato seed last April. The colour contrast comes from the polarizing microscope he uses, which has both transmitted and reflected light capabilities. The thinner parts at the edge of the seed (purple) are viewed with transmitted light while the trichomes on the top of the seed (red) are viewed with reflected light.

This image won a tied honourable mention in the “Photography” category of the 2010 International Science and Engineering Visualisation Challenge appearing in the journal Science, published by AAAS.

Image credit: Robert Rock Belliveau