Facilities, Equipment & Resources

The School of BioSciences maintains a number of state-of-the-art facilities, equipment and resources which are available for use in research. Some facilities (i.e. Advanced Microscopy Facility) are also accessible to the wider scientific community in government, business and industry.

Advanced Microscopy Facility

The University of Melbourne maintains a state-of-the-art electron and optical microscope facility with nodes located at the Bio21 Institute and the School of BioSciences. Instruments at these nodes are available to research students and staff of The University of Melbourne, as well as to the wider scientific community of government, business and industry.

Instruments include:

  • Transmission electron microscopy (TEM)

    FEI Tecnai Spirit


    This state-of-the-art TEM is designed for the high-contrast imaging of biological samples or nanomaterials. Equipped with a 4k x 4k camera it is primarily used for high resolution imaging.

    The instrument is equipped with a cold stage to allow the imaging of rapid frozen samples, and can perform 3D Tomography at room temperature or cryo conditions.


    • High resolution imaging of resin-embedded biological samples
    • Cryo-TEM of cells, tissues or nanoparticles
    • 3D Tomography of cells, tissues or nanomaterials at room temperature (resin sections) or cryo temperatures (thin frozen films)

    Phillips CM120


    This workhorse TEM is a high throughput instrument for the routine imaging of biological samples or nanomaterials. It is equipped with a 1k x 1k digital camera for rapid imaging and surveying of large sample areas.


    • Routine imaging of resin embedded cells and tissues
    • Imaging of negatively stained whole cells and particles

    Sample Processing

    We have two Leica ultramicrotomes for the sectioning of resin embedded biological samples to produce sections down to 50nm thickness.

    In addition we have a resin block trimmer to rapidly produce a block face in the area of interest, and a knife maker to produce glass knives for microtoming.

    • Leica Ultracut R
    • Leica Ultracut S
    • Leica EMTrim
    • LKB 7800 Knife Maker
  • Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM)

    Phillips XL30 FEG

    This instrument has a field-emission electron gun (FEG) providing much greater resolution than conventional SEM’s especially at lower voltages. This enables the high resolution imaging of fine surface details of delicate samples.


    • High resolution imaging of the surfaces of biological cells, tissues and materials
    • Imaging in secondary or backscattered electron modes

    Sample Processing

    We have a critical point drier for the drying of delicate cells and tissues, that prevents any shrinkage or collapse. The drier has a large volume chamber for the drying of multiple samples at the one time.

    In addition we have a gold coater to make the dried samples electrically conductive. This instrument has a high-vacuum chamber and rotating sample stage to produce super-fine coatings of gold uniformly over the surfaces of biological or materials samples.

    • Balzers CPD 030 critical point drier


    • Dynavac Xenosput gold coater


  • Laser Scanning Confocal Microscopy

    Leica SP2


    This inverted confocal microscope produces very sharp images of the fluorescence produced by cells that contain fluorescent probes or markers. The images are produced by scanning a laser beam with a particular wavelength across the samples and collecting the emitted light. By collecting images of the fluorescence at multiple Z positions and stacking them together 3D reconstructions of individual cells can be made.

  • Spinning Disk Confocal Microscopy

    Andor WD Spinning Disk

    This state-of-the-art instrument produces super-sharp fluorescent images by excluding out of focus light using pinholes – much like a laser scanning confocal. In this instrument, however, there are hundreds of pinholes arranged on a spinning disk that greatly enhances the fluorescent signal and resolution in the images. It has key advantages in its acquisition speed and in the reduction of photo-bleaching of fluorophores making it ideal for short or long-term experiments.

  • Light Microscopy

    Leica M205 Fluorescence Stereo Microscope


    This new fluorescence stereo microscope has a large zoom and magnification range, allowing details as small as 2 microns to be resolved. Its fully motorized stage allows precise movements that enable maximum focus to be obtained on the smallest of structures.

    The instruments revolutionary MultiFocus software allows the automated acquisition of dozens of images at incrementally changing focal planes. The software then automatically selects only those areas of each image that are correctly focussed and combines them to create a perfect image with no loss of depth of field.

    Leica DM6000B Fluorescence Compound Microscope


    This new fluorescence compound microscope is equipped with the very latest in advanced technologies. It operates with a motorized Z-drive, motorized objective turret and a fully motorized X & Y stage. It is equipped with all incident light methods such as brightfield, DIC, phase contrast and fluorescence microscopy.

    The microscope is supported by powerful software that allows the user to run complex imaging experiments that combine variables in X & Y position, Z-height, illumination conditions, and points in time. Once the parameters for an experiment have been set the fully automated microscope runs the imaging sequence without the need for the user to be present.

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Glasshouse Complex

The Glasshouse complex is located as part of the Zoology Building. There are 9 separate glasshouses located on the first floor of the complex. These can be accessed by internal and external stair wells and an elevator. Two glasshouses are classed PC1 and serve for plant pathology experiments.

The Glasshouse complex also houses the following facilities:

  • Growth rooms & cabinets - Three growth rooms are available for use. These have both lighting and temperature control. A further 3 growth cabinets are available with temperature, lighting and relative humidity control.
  • Hardstand - An external pot standing area is available for the growing of potted plants.
  • Ground plots -  A small area on the edge of the systems garden is available for in ground growing of plants. This area is small and space is limited.
  • Potting shed - This is a work area for the preparation of potted plants. Soil mixing and sterilization facilitates are available this is also the pot, soil, sand and soil additives storage area.

The University of Melbourne Herbarium (MELU)

Established in 1926 by a donation of plant specimens, the Herbarium collection now totals approximately 100,000 specimens - and its still growing.

All major plant groups are housed in the Herbarium, including fungi, mosses, liverworts, lichens, algae, ferns, gymnosperms and flowering plants. The main emphasis of the collection is Victorian flora, however, for some plant groups interstate and overseas collections are included to adequately cover the range of variation within the group.

Being an archival plant collection of international importance, the Herbarium contributes substantially to the School of BioSciences through research, teaching, public relations and the exchange of specimens and information locally and globally. The herbarium lends specimens nationally and internationally to registered scientific institutions for research purposes, and welcomes the use of the collection by visiting scientists. Through undergraduate courses, volunteer and internship programs students can learn about herbaria and assist in the maintenance and expansion of the facility.

Herbarium Collection Online
Our Significant Collections
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Melbourne Pollen Count

Melbourne Pollen Count forecasts the level of pollen in the air during Melbourne's peak allergy period from October 1 to December 31 each year.

The School of BioSciences and the Asthma Foundation Victoria offer this service as research has identified that grass pollens released during this period are the major contributor to allergies in the outdoor atmosphere of the city.

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Tiegs Museum

The Tiegs Museum of the University of Melbourne, established in 1887, is Australia’s oldest university museum of zoology.  The collection, accumulated over 120 years, has specimens contributed by the first Professor of the department, Sir Walter Baldwin Spencer.

It has an extensive collection of specimens representing the whole animal kingdom, ranging from small invertebrates to prepared whole-mounts and skeletons of vertebrates including an African lion, and a moa (an extinct emu-like bird from New Zealand).

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Wildlife Software

WildlifeDensity is a Mac OS X based program designed to help field workers estimate the densities of many biological populations in land habitats, particularly birds and larger mammals. It uses distance data from either line transect or fixed observing point surveys to model change in visual detectability with increasing distance from an observer. If the sample size is adequate, and appropriate information available on the observing situation, the model is then used to estimate the overall population density, its confidence limits, and other parameters of the observing situation. It can also estimate the proportion of the population detectable along a transect line.

The program uses either radial distance or perpendicular distance data from ground-level or aerial surveys. It can also obtain estimates using data from a selected range of distances; observations on the transect line itself or at the observer's position are not necessary, nor is complete detectability along a transect line The procedure is relatively straightforward to use with many populations of interest, including many active, highly mobile species for which relevant data on movement rates are also available, and those well above or below an observer's position.

Version 2.2.1 (Last Updated: 28 August 2020)

Downloads & Read Me

Wilsons Promontory Virtual Herbarium

The Wilsons Promontory VirtualHerbarium website provides access to a significant collection of plant and algal species from Wilsons Promontory National Park. It is a publicly accessible online resource for the use of field naturalists, researchers and students of botany and related disciplines. Species pages of almost 500 taxa from 124 families are presented, with images and information about the distribution, descriptive features of the plant, as well as links to additional information, maps and images. You can search for species by various features, including name, flower colour and habitat.

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