Innovative Experts Produce Colorful Cell Images (Photos)

By Sally Appert On February 19, 2013 @ 5:35 pm In Inspiring Discoveries | No Comments

A fluorescence image of a living cell with protein molecules in bright green. (Rudolf Oldenbourg/MBL)

A fluorescence image of a living cell with protein molecules in bright green. (Rudolf Oldenbourg/MBL)

Biologists and physicists have worked together to create candy-colored images of cells in high resolution that are both eye-catching and useful in research.

The microscopic pictures are of various subjects, from fluorescent green strands of protein to monkey kidney cells.

“These images also bring us to a beautiful world beyond the grasp of our normal senses,” Amy S. Gladfelter of Dartmouth University and the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) said in a press release. “In this way microscopes give us beauty and [biological or medical] application, often in the same image.”

“We are beginning to understand the basis for cell organization at unprecedented spatial and temporal resolution through the creative application of fundamental physics to microscopy.”

The new images let us look at fundamental processes inside cells. They may be useful for diagnosing cancer or discovering new pharmaceuticals.

Spermatocytes from the crane fly, Nephrotoma suturalis. This image was generated using a Nikon Microphot SA equipped with a liquid crystal universal compensator. (Rudolf Oldenbourg/MBL)

Spermatocytes from the crane fly, Nephrotoma suturalis. This image was generated using a Nikon Microphot SA equipped with a liquid crystal universal compensator. (Rudolf Oldenbourg/MBL)

“Polarization is a basic property of light that is often overlooked, because the human eye is not sensitive to polarization,” Rudolf Oldenbourg, senior scientist at the MBL, said in the release. “Therefore, we don’t have an intuitive understanding of it, and optical phenomena that are based on polarization either elude us or we find them difficult to comprehend.”

“Like most scientific instruments, the polarized light microscope translates polarization effects so they can be perceived by our senses, in this case by our eyes,” he explained.

“At the MBL, we are developing polarized light imaging techniques … that clearly reveal the otherwise invisible dynamics of single molecules and molecular assemblies in organelles, cells, and tissues.”

Six researchers presented their work in a symposium called “Innovations in Imaging: Seeing is Believing,” held at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Annual Meeting in Boston, Massachusetts.

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