Korean J Parasitol.  2019 Dec;57(6):581-585. 10.3347/kjp.2019.57.6.581.

Application of Autofluorescence for Confocal Microscopy to Aid in Archaeoparasitological Analyses

  • 1Pre-Health Pathways, Student Success Center, South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, Rapid City, SD 57701, USA. johnicamorrow@yahoo.com
  • 2Pathoecology and Palynology Laboratory, School of Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68503, USA.
  • 3Department of Agronomy and Horticulture, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE 68583, USA.


Confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM) was used to examine archaeoparasitological specimens from coprolites associated with La Cueva de los Muertos Chiquitos (CMC) located near present-day Durango, Mexico. The eggs for 4 different types of parasites recovered from CMC coprolites were imaged using CLSM to assist with identification efforts. While some of the parasite eggs recovered from CMC coprolites were readily identified using standard light microscopy (LM), CLSM provided useful data for more challenging identifications by highlighting subtle morphological features and enhancing visualization of parasite egg anatomy. While other advanced microscopy techniques, such as scanning electron microscopy (SEM), may also detect cryptic identifying characters, CLSM is less destructive to the specimens. Utilizing CLSM allows for subsequent examinations, such as molecular analyses, that cannot be performed following SEM sample preparation and imaging. Furthermore, CLSM detects intrinsic autofluorescence molecules, making improved identification independent of resource and time-intensive protocols. These aspects of CLSM make it an excellent method for assisting in taxonomic identification and for acquiring more detailed images of archaeoparasitological specimens.


Archaeoparasitology; autofluorescence; confocal laser scanning microscopy; parasite eggs; La Cueva de los Muertos Chiquitos

MeSH Terms

Microscopy, Confocal*
Microscopy, Electron, Scanning
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