X-rays Showcase Creation of Similar Internal Portraits of Whole Cells

By: James V. Kohl | Published on: February 21, 2012

This video provides a moving “picture” of the complexity involved in the construction of one cell among the many types of cells found across diverse species from microbes to man. It exemplifies discoveries made by “pattern-seeking” scientists and laypersons who think about what others may simply accept based on what they can “see”.
Video: X-rays Paint Whole-Cell Portraits
by Erin Loury on 17 February 2012, 6:59 PM
 VANCOUVER, CANADAImagine photographing every seed in a watermelon without cutting a single slice. Scientists can use x-rays to create similar internal portraits of whole cells, they reported here this morning at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (which publishes ScienceNOW). Like performing a cellular CT scan, researchers rapidly freeze a cell and snap its x-ray image once every 100 milliseconds. They can reconstruct an entire cell from 90-200 images in about 5 minutes. Using the differing light-absorption properties of organelles—the cell’s functional structures—the scientists can automatically identify and color-code this inner machinery, like in the T cell shown above (the nucleus is bright blue, mitochondria are pink, and lysosomes are yellow). Researchers can use the technique to count and calculate the volume of organelles, and even measure how much hemoglobin malarial parasites consume inside red blood cells. Peering inside a whole cell without the laborious slicing and staining of electron microscopy makes x-ray imaging quick, quantitative, and decidedly less mess.

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