Watching the first moments of a new life has been a dream of biology for many years, but life is often too fragile to observe. This action-packed video of delicate dividing embryos (of the species Caenorhabditis elegans) was made possible by a revolutionary technique called lattice light-sheet microscopy. Criss-cross patterns of laser light spread gently through horizontal 'sheets' of the embryo, highlighting manmade fluorescent molecules involved in early cell division (coloured green and red). Lowering the risk of damage often caused by laser radiation, the technique enables high-resolution images of microscopic life to be taken very quickly. Highlighted in blue (from eight seconds onwards), images are reconstructed into never- before-seen videos of live embryos dividing in their 3D environment. Conceived by the team of Eric Betzig, a winner of the 2014 Nobel Prize for Chemistry, this ground-breaking new technology is poised to reveal many more of life’s previously-hidden wonders.
Written by John Ankers
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.