This brightly coloured ball is a cow embryo, except it’s not...not really. Like many microscopy pictures, this is a reconstruction of how light falls on something tiny. Sometimes though, pictures from inside living tissue can be fuzzy, because light bounces around inside creating a sort of 'cloud'. Here, gradient light interference microscopy (GLIM) aims gentle pulses of laser light at different depths in the embryo, piecing together a set of pictures into a detailed 3D model. Researchers sliced the top off this virtual embryo so they can peer inside at the earliest stages of life, spotting any problems. GLIM could be a gentle and safe way for predicting which human embryos are most suitable for in vitro fertilisation, raising the chance of conceiving for millions of hopeful couples.
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.