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  • Writer's pictureKirk Hartley

New Science Tools – a Detailed Look Inside a Cell at the Moment of Division

Another cool new science tool. Now scientists at Caltech and Howard Hughes are starting to be able to see inside a cell during the moment of division.

How? Here’s the explanation from ScienceDaily:

"Jensen’s group is one of just a few in the world that uses electron cryotomography (ECT) to image biological samples. Unlike traditional electron microscopy — for which samples must be dehydrated, embedded in plastic, sectioned, and stained — ECT involves plunge-freezing samples so quickly that they become trapped in a near-native state within a layer of transparent, glasslike ice. A microscope can then capture high-resolution images of the sample as it is rotated, usually one degree at a time.

One limitation of ECT is that samples cannot be thicker than 500 nanometers — otherwise the electron beam cannot penetrate the sample sufficiently. Therefore, ECT studies have focused on small bacteria and viruses. But Jensen’s group wanted to extend the technique to observe eukaryotic cells, which are typically much bigger. So they located the smallest known eukaryote, Ostreococcus tauri, and imaged it with ECT."

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