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Researchers visualize complex pigment mixtures in living cells
Date:3/4/2008

TEMPE, Ariz. In a technical advance that could allow researchers to watch cells as they act during the process of photosynthesis, scientists have developed a method that extends the power of fluorescence-mediated bio-imaging to see discrete pigments inside live cells of bacteria.

The method is providing fresh insights into what happens on a molecular level during photosynthesis. It also promises to provide important information about the inner workings of cells as they engage in the photosynthesis process of collecting sunlight and turning it into chemical energy. Such information could be valuable in helping researchers fine tune the bacteria for specific purposes, said Wim Vermaas, a professor in ASUs School of Life Sciences and lead author of the report, In vivo hyperspectral confocal fluorescence imaging to determine pigment localization and distribution in cyanobacterial cells. The report was published in this weeks online Early Edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The ASU researchers worked with scientists from Sandia National Laboratories, Albuquerque, on the new method.

This is a new tool in our tool box, and a very good one at that, said Vermaas.

The method is based on fluorescence imaging to discern the different pigments of bacteria that are engaged in photosynthesis. Fluorescence is a property where some compounds emit a characteristic glow when excited by specific wavelengths of light. Up until now, current fluorescent methods have had a hard time discerning compounds with similar pigments and fluorescence characteristics, hampering the ability of researchers to know exactly what is going on inside a cell.

Confocal fluorescence microscopy has proven to be an excellent method to localize pigments in cells as long as there is little spectral overlap between different fluorescing pigments. The new method, hyperspectral fluorescence imaging, greatly pushes the boundaries of this techn
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Contact: Skip Derra
skip.derra@asu.edu
480-965-4823
Arizona State University
Source:Eurekalert

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