Understanding the roles gene products play in biological systems is a key challenge in the post-genomic era. Thanks to tremendous progress of instrumentation, software and molecular “tools” (genetically encoded fluorophores, ion sensors etc.), fluorescence microscopy evolved from an “illustrative” method to a stand-alone technology in modern life sciences. Fluorescence microscopy is in principle capable to visualize almost every structure and every event of interest. Details smaller than optical resolution limits can be visualized by recently developed “super-resolution” techniques. In many cases, dynamic non-invasive observations of live objects are possible, and quantitative information can be extracted, including those on concentration, specific interactions and mobility of a molecule of interest.
A range of state-of-the-art light microscopy instruments and image processing tools are available at the Imaging Facility of MPI-IE. The Facility maintains the equipment and assists with image acquisition and analysis. The Facility usage is growing: over 5000 total usage hours were registered in 2015, in comparison to 2850 hours in 2014; there are nearly 80 active users. The Facility renews its equipment and widens the arsenal of available techniques. In 2014-2015, Imaging Facility acquired new high-end “mobile” microscope stage incubation unit for live microscopy, an image analysis workstation and advanced software. Most important, the Institute won a “Replacement Investment” grant of the MPG which enabled the Imaging Facility to acquire a brand-new multiphoton and confocal imaging system (Zeiss LSM780 NLO), which is suitable for intra-vital imaging. Even more opportunities in experiment design and model organism range appeared since this system is installed in the Biosafety level 2 containment.