What are the names and uses of the various kinds of laboratory apparatus used in biology?

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2008-07-08 17:34:35

Petri Dish:

A round, shallow, flat dish with a loose cover made of glass or

plastic. It can be used for growing cultures (such as bacteria,

animal, plant, fungal, etc) and seed germination, as well as for

other applications. Petri dishes may be reused if sterilized. It is

named after German bacteriologist Julius Richard Petri.

Staining Dishes:

Are used for staining in pathology, microscopy, microbiology and

hematology. These dishes can be made of plastic, stainless and

glass. The racks hold slides made of glass. The jars are used for

actually staining the slides or as a development chamber.

Staining is a biochemical technique of adding a

class-specific (DNA, proteins, lipids, carbohydrates) dye to a

substrate to qualify or quantify the presence of a specific

compound. It is similar to fluorescent tagging.


Example: Gram Staining: a technique for identifying/classifying


Glass Slides:

Used for mounting tissue/specimen for observation.

Cover Slips:

AKA Cover Slides, these are smaller sheets of glass used to

cover the slide after specimen has been mounted. A cover slip

flattens the object and also acts as a barrier, keeping the

microscope's lens clean. Additionally, it slows the evaporation

from the surface of the slide that is being examined.


Cell incubators are used to grow maintain

cultures/organisms/objects at a fixed temperature and humidity. The

application or use determines the optimal temperature to be



Sterilization devices that achieve sterilization via

pressurization and increased temperatures, heating sterilizing

solutions above boiling points in order to sterilize medical and

lab instruments. Autoclaves are used in the medical field and

tattoo and body piercing parlors, as well as the manufacturing

industry to "cure" products during certain manufacturing


The autoclave was invented by Charles Chamberland in 1879.

Test Tubes:

A cylindrical glass "tubing" that is open at the top and

U-shaped at the bottom that is used to contain materials under

observation. A mild rule of thumb distinction is often made between

a test tube and a culture tube. The test tube has a rounded lip at

the top. The culture tube has no lip. These terms continue to be

used interchangeably.

When heating materials such as with a Bunsen burner, it is best

to use a boiling tube as these are made to withstand the higher


Test Tube Holders:

Are obviously made to hold a test tube (or culture tube or

boiling tube). These can be made out of wood or metal racks and can

hold other items such as pipettes.

Bunsen burner:

Are small gas burners used to heat materials for experiments.

Its flame is adjustable at the base of the burner by controlling

the amount of gas/air. The gas is controlled via valve to the gas

container and the "flue" is used to control the amount of air via

holes at the bottom of the burner.


In short, it is a shallow, concave glass dish that can be used

as a beaker cover or an evaporating surface, so named because they

look like the glass on the front of the old pocket watches used by

train conductors and such.

Microscope usually compound microscope.

Dissection box or dissecting instrument such as forceps, knife,

needle, bone cutter etc.


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