This x-ray tomography image of a yeast cell taken at the ALS with XM-1 is an example of what could be done with the proposed XM-2. Internal organelles are color-coded according to x-ray absorption. Shown in red are the nucleus (smaller sphere) and large vacuole. Lipid droplets are shown in white, and cytoplasmic structures are shown in either orange or green.
Carolyn Larabell and Mark Le Gros used the current transmission x-ray microscope at the ALS, XM-1, to demonstrate the potential of their new microscopy resource
A first-of-its-kind x-ray microscope being built for the Advanced Light Source (ALS) of the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) holds forth the promise of “cat scans” for biological cells, and other unprecedented capabilities for cell and molecular biology studies. The new microscopy resource also promises a better understanding of human diseases at the molecular level and possibly new discoveries for treating those diseases. Now, researchers with Berkeley Lab and the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), have received grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to build and operate this microscope.
“X-ray microscopy is an emerging new technology that will expand the existing imaging toolbox for cell and molecular biologists, and we would like to make this technology available to the greater biological community,” says cell biologist and microscopy expert Carolyn Larabell, who holds a joint appointment with UCSF’s Anatomy Department, and with Berkeley Lab’s Physical Biosciences Division. She is the principal investigator for this project. Berkeley Lab physicist Mark Le Gros is the co-principal investigator.
“Although there are currently many powerful techniques for imaging biological cells, each with its own unique strengths and limitations, there remains a gap between the information that can be obtained with light microscopy and electron microscopy,” Larabell says. “X-ray microscopy can bridge this gap by combining some of the best features associated with light and electron microscopy, plus bringing in some entirely new capabilities.”
Lynn Yarris | LBNL
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