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Microscope sees the big picture

Selective plane illumination microscopy can map millimeters-sized samples in vivo

Charles Choi(cqchoi@nasw.org)

A new microscope can generate three-dimensional images of living specimens with a greater combination of depth and precision than before, according to a report in the August 13 Science. Researchers say the novel technique could prove useful for peering inside developing embryos, for example, to track gene and protein expression patterns over days.

"The direction we see for our instrument is to perform experiments with whole organisms that mimic physiological conditions to get a better picture of everything that's going on," researcher Ernst Stelzer, from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory at Heidelberg, told The Scientist.

Stelzer and colleagues sought to devise a method to map relatively large millimeter-sized samples in vivo. Optical projection tomography can image embryos at high resolution, but of fixed specimens only. Magnetic resonance imaging and optical coherence tomography feature noninvasive imaging, but do not easily provide specific contrasts. Laser scanning microscopy (LSM) can...

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