Imaging morphogenesis

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The hostile environment of the microscope stage poses numerous challenges to successful imaging of morphogenesis in live tissues. This review aims to highlight some of the main practical considerations to take into account when embarking on a project to image cell behaviour in the context of cells' normal surroundings. Scrutiny of these activities is likely to be the most informative approach to understanding mechanical morphogenesis but is often confounded by the substantial technical difficulties involved in imaging samples over extended periods of time. Repeated observation of cells in live tissue requires that strategies be adopted to prioritize the stability of the sample, ensuring that it remains viable and develops normally while being held in a manner accessible to microscopic examination. Key considerations when creating reliable protocols for time-lapse imaging may be broken down into three main criteria; labelling, mounting and image acquisition. Choices and compromises made here, however, will directly influence image quality, and even small refinements can substantially improve what information may be extracted from images. Live imaging of tissue is difficult but paying close attention to the basics along with a little innovation is likely to be well rewarded.This article is part of the themed issue 'Systems morphodynamics: understanding the development of tissue hardware'.

Journal details

Volume 372
Issue number 1720
Pages 20150511
Available online
Publication date


Type of publication

Crick labs/facilities

Crick authors

Crick First author
Crick Corresponding author