q&more
My watch list
my.chemie.de  
Login  

News

The self-driving microscope

Researchers develop a combination of software and hardware for adaptive live imaging of large living organisms

© MPI of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics

20-h imaging of a fruit fly embryo with the nervous system fluorescently labeled. AutoPilot automatically detects the onset of the expression of the marker and optimizes all parameters associated with this color channel in response to the emerging signal.

02-Nov-2016: Light-sheet microscopy is one of the most powerful method for imaging the development and function of whole living organisms. However, achieving high-resolution images with these microscopes requires manual adjustments during imaging. Researchers of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden together with colleagues at Janelia Research Campus (HHMI) have developed a new kind of light-sheet microscope that can ‘drive’ itself automatically by adapting to the challenging and dynamic optical conditions of large living specimens. This new smart microscope combines a novel hardware design and a smart ‘AutoPilot’ system that can analyze images and automatically adjust and optimize the microscope. This framework enables for the first time long-term adaptive imaging of entire developing embryos and improves the resolution of light-sheet microscopes up to five-fold.

Light sheet microscopy is a novel microscopy technique developed in the last ten years that is uniquely suited to image large living organisms. In a light-sheet microscope, a laser light sheet illuminates the sample perpendicularly to the observation along a thin plane within the sample. Out-of-focus and scattered light from other planes - which often impair image quality - is largely avoided because only the observed plane is illuminated.

The long-standing goal of microscopy is to achieve ever-sharper images deep inside of living samples. For light-sheet microscopes this requires to perfectly maintain the careful alignments between imaging and light-sheet illumination planes. Mismatches between these planes arise from the optical variability of living tissues across different locations and over time. Tackling this challenge is essential to acquire the high-resolution images necessary to decipher the biology behind organism development and morphogenesis. “So far, researchers had to sit at their microscope and tweak things manually – our system puts an end to this: it is like a self-driving car: it functions autonomously”, says Loïc Royer, first author of the study. This smart autonomous microscope can in real-time analyze and optimize the spatial relationship between light-sheets and detection planes across the specimen volume.

The researchers demonstrated the performance of their smart microscope by imaging the development of zebrafish and fly embryos for more than 20 hours. They also performed adaptive whole-brain functional imaging in larval zebrafish – obtaining sharper images of a whole ‘thinking’ fish brain. In the study they show how their system recovers cellular and sub-cellular resolution in many regions of the sample and how it adapts to changes in the spatial distribution of fluorescent markers. “We have been using our AutoPilot system on several microscopes for more than two years and it makes a big difference in terms of image quality.” says Philipp Keller one of the senior authors with Gene Myers. Making microscopes adaptive and autonomous is important as it will enable the future use of light-sheet microscopy for automated high-throughput drug screens, mutant screens and the construction of anatomical and developmental atlases in various biological model systems.

Facts, background information, dossiers

More about MPI für molekulare Zellbiologie und Genetik

  • News

    The lipid code

    Lipids, or fats, have many functions in our body: They form membrane barriers, store energy or act as messengers, which regulate cell growth and hormone release. Many of them are also biomarkers for severe diseases. So far, it has been very difficult to analyze the functions of these molecu ... more

    Let’s build a cell

    Cells are the basic unit of life. They provide an environment for the fundamental molecules of life to interact, for reactions to take place and sustain life. However, the biological cell is very complicated, making it difficult to understand what takes place inside it. One way to tackle th ... more

    How cells stick together tightly

    Our organs are specialized compartments, each with its own milieu and function. To seal our organs, the cells in the tissue must form a barrier which is tight even down to the level of molecules. This barrier is formed by a protein complex that “sticks” all the cells together without any ga ... more

More about Max-Planck-Gesellschaft

  • News

    "Ultimate cell sorter" developed: combining imaging of deformed cells and AI

    In medicine and biology, there is great interest in efficient and inexpensive methods for identifying and separating different cell types, for example for medical diagnostics or for regenerative therapies using stem cells. Up to this point, the method of choice has been the so-called flow c ... more

    Rolling into the deep

    A team of scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems (MPI-IS) in Stuttgart invented a tiny microrobot that resembles a white blood cell travelling through the circulatory system. It has the shape, the size and the moving capabilities of leukocytes and could perhaps be ... more

    Interorganellar signals regulate longevity

    As people get older, they often feel less energetic, mobile or active. This may be due in part to a decline in mitochondria, the tiny powerhouses inside of our cells, which provide energy and regulate metabolism. In fact, mitochondria decline with age not only in humans, but in many species ... 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:

 

Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE