Technique for studying arthropod and microbial communities within tree tissues

Nicholas C. Aflitto, Richard W. Hofstetter, Reagan McGuire, David D. Dunn, Kristen A. Potter

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Phloem tissues of pine are habitats for many thousands of organisms. Arthropods and microbes use phloem and cambium tissues to seek mates, lay eggs, rear young, feed, or hide from natural enemies or harsh environmental conditions outside of the tree. Organisms that persist within the phloem habitat are difficult to observe given their location under bark. We provide a technique to preserve intact phloem and prepare it for experimentation with invertebrates and microorganisms. The apparatus is called a ‘phloem sandwich’ and allows for the introduction and observation of arthropods, microbes, and other organisms. This technique has resulted in a better understanding of the feeding behaviors, life-history traits, reproduction, development, and interactions of organisms within tree phloem. The strengths of this technique include the use of inexpensive materials, variability in sandwich size, flexibility to re-open the sandwich or introduce multiple organisms through drilled holes, and the preservation and maintenance of phloem integrity. The phloem sandwich is an excellent educational tool for scientific discovery in both K-12 science courses and university research laboratories.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere50793
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number93
StatePublished - Nov 16 2014


  • Acoustics
  • Bark beetles
  • Environmental Sciences
  • Issue 93
  • Mites
  • Phloem
  • Phloem sandwich
  • Pine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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