03-Aug-2021 - Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn

Novel method for fast 3D microscopy

Researchers at the ImmunoSensation2 Cluster of Excellence at the University of Bonn, the University Hospital and the research center caesar have develop a method that allows using multi-focal images to reconstruct the movement of fast biological processes in 3D.

In the past, many discoveries have been made because better, more accurate measurement methods have become available, making it possible to obtain data from previously unexplored phenomena. For example, high-resolution microscopy has begun to dramatically change our perspectives of cell function and dynamics. Researchers at the ImmunoSensation2 Cluster of Excellence at the University of Bonn, the University Hospital and the research center caesar have now develop a method that allows using multi-focal images to reconstruct the movement of fast biological processes in 3D. The study has been recently published in the journal Nature Communications.

Many biological processes happen on a nano- to millimeter scale and within milliseconds. Established methods such as confocal microscopy are suitable for precise 3D recordings but lack the temporal or spatial resolution to resolve fast 3D processes and require labeled samples. For many investigations in biology, image acquisition at high frame rates is essential to record and understand the principles that govern cellular functions or fast animal behaviors. The challenge facing the scientists can be compared to following a thrilling tennis match: Sometimes it is not possible to follow the fast-moving ball with precision, or the ball is not discovered before it is already out of bounds.

With previous methods, the researchers were unable to track the shot because the image was blurred or the object of interest was simply no longer in the field-of-view after the picture was taken. Standard multifocal imaging methods allow high-speed 3D imaging but are limited by the compromise between high resolution and large field-of-view, and they often require bright fluorescent labels.

For the first time, the hereby described method allows multifocal imaging with both a large field of view and a high spatio-temporal resolution to be used. In this study, the scientists track the movement of non-labeled spherical and filamentous structures quickly and accurately.

As very strikingly described in the study, the new method now provides novel insight into the dynamics of flagellar beating and its connection to the swimming behavior of sperm. This connection has been possible because the researchers were able to precisely record the flagellar beat of free-swimming sperm in 3D over a long period of time and simultaneously follow sperm trajectories of individual sperm. In addition, the scientists determined the 3D fluid flow around the beating sperm. Such findings not only open the door to understand causes of infertility, but could also be used in so-called "bionics", i.e., the transfer of principles found in nature to technical applications.

Researchers at the ImmunoSensation2 Cluster of Excellence can already use the new method - and not just to observe sperm. This method could also be used to determine the 3D flow maps that result from the beating of motile cilia. Motile cilia beat in a similar way to the sperm tail and transport fluid. Cilia-driven flow plays an important role in the ventricle of the brain or in the airways where it serves to transport mucus out of the lungs and into the throat- this is also how pathogens are transported out and warded off.

The multi-focal imaging concept reported in this study is cost-effective, can be easily implemented, and does not rely on object labeling. The researchers assert that their new method can find its way into other fields as well, and they see many other potential applications.

Participating institutions and funding:

In addition to the ImmunoSensation2 Cluster of Excellence and the caesar research center, the University of Glasgow was involved in the study. The study received open access funding enabled by the DEAL project.

Facts, background information, dossiers

More about Universität Bonn

  • News

    Study shows how bioactive substance inhibits important receptor

    The A2A receptor regulates how vigorously the innate immune system attacks diseased cells. Researchers at the University of Bonn have now been able to show for the first time how an important inhibitor binds to the receptor. In the future, the results will facilitate the targeted search for ... more

    New strategy for COVID-19 prophylaxis

    SARS-CoV-2 viruses can hide from recognition by the immune system. However, the antiviral immune receptor RIG-I can be stimulated, which improves protection against lethal SARS-CoV-2 infections. Researchers led by Prof. Gunther Hartmann from the Institute of Clinical Chemistry and Clinical ... more

    Protons are probably actually smaller than long thought

    A few years ago, a novel measurement technique showed that protons are probably smaller than had been assumed since the 1990s. This surprised the scientific community; some researchers even believed that the Standard Model of particle physics would have to be changed. Physicists at the Univ ... more

  • q&more articles

    A colorful variety of reactions

    The continuing trend towards sustainability, naturalness and healthy nutrition is making plant-based food ingredients with biofunctional and technofunctional properties increasingly important. Polyphenols, synthesized by plants as secondary metabolites, possess the molecular characteristics ... more

    How gold plasma can make hidden structures visible

    In recent years, microcomputed tomography (μCT) has become a standard method in many medical, scientific and industrial fields. This non-invasive technique enables three-dimensional imaging of a wide variety of structures. However, a new combination of methods now makes it possible to visua ... more

  • Authors

    Prof. Dr. Andreas Schieber

    Andreas Schieber, born in 1966, studied food chemistry at the University of Stuttgart and received his doctorate in 1996 from the University of Hohenheim. After his second state examination at the Chemical and Veterinary Investigation Office in Stuttgart, he returned to the university in 19 ... more

    Dr. Markus Lambertz

    Markus Lambertz, born in 1984, studied biology with a focus on zoology, paleontology and geology in Bonn, where he graduated with a diploma degree in 2010. After a research stay over several months in Ribeirão Preto (Brazil) he worked on his doctoral thesis in Bonn, receiving his doctorate ... more

    Prof. Dr. Jürgen Bajorath

    Jürgen Bajorath studied biochemistry and obtained diploma and Ph.D. degrees from the Free University Berlin (West). He is Professor and Chair of Life Science Informatics at the Bonn-Aachen International Center for Information Technology (B-IT) and the LIMES Institute of the University of Bo ... more

q&more – the networking platform for quality excellence in lab and process

The q&more concept is to increase the visibility of recent research and innovative solutions, and support the exchange of knowledge. In the broad spectrum of subjects covered, the focus is on achieving maximum quality in highly innovative sectors. As a modern knowledge platform, q&more offers market participants one-of-a-kind networking opportunities. Cutting-edge research is presented by authors of international repute. Attractively presented in a high-quality context, and published in German and English, the original articles introduce new concepts and highlight unconventional solution strategies.

> more about q&more

q&more is supported by: