as users of Google Earth can zoom in from space to a view of their own
backyard, researchers can now navigate biological tissues from a whole
embryo down to its subcellular structures thanks to recent advances in
electron microscopy and image processing, as described in The Journal of Cell Biology (JCB). An upgrade to the JCB DataViewer (http://jcb-dataviewer.rupress.org), JCB’s browser-based image presentation tool, now also makes these data publicly accessible for exploration and discovery.
the early days of cell biology, electron microscopy has revealed
cellular structures in exquisite detail. The technique has always been
limited, however, by the fact that it can only capture a tiny portion of
the cell in a single image at high resolution, making it difficult for
researchers to relate the structures they see to the cell as a whole,
let alone to the tissue or organ in which the cell is located. Viewing
samples at lower resolution, on the other hand, can reveal the larger
picture of a cell or tissue, but researchers then lose the benefit of
seeing fine details.
team of scientists from Leiden University Medical Center in the
Netherlands has addressed this problem by developing new tools for
stitching together thousands of electron microscopy images into single,
high-resolution images of biological tissues—a “Google Earth” for cell
biologists—which can be explored using the newly enhanced JCB DataViewer.
Faas et al. describe their recent advances to a technique called “virtual nanoscopy” in the August 6th issue of JCB.
The researchers were able to stitch together over 26,000 individual
images to generate an almost complete electron micrograph of a zebrafish
embryo encompassing 281 gigapixels in total at a resolution of 16
million pixels per inch. Using the JCB DataViewer,
anyone can navigate the zebrafish image from the level of the whole,
1.5 mm-long embryo down to subcellular structures.
ability to integrate information across cells and tissues will provide
researchers with exceptional opportunities for future discoveries. But
the image’s large size and complexity meant that providing access to
Faas et al.’s data necessitated a major upgrade to the JCB DataViewer,
a browser-based image hosting platform originally launched in 2008 to
promote the sharing of original data associated with JCB publications.
“If you can image it, you should be able to publish it,” says JCB Executive Editor Liz Williams. As a journal, “JCB
remains committed to developing cutting-edge tools for the presentation
of the data that drive progress in the field of cell biology.”
About the JCB DataViewer
The JCB DataViewer is an image hosting and presentation platform for original image data associated with articles published in JCB. Developed in a collaboration between Glencoe Software, Inc. and the Rockefeller University Press (www.rupress.org), the JCB DataViewer
was the first browser-based viewer for multidimensional microscopy
image data. It is based on open source software built by the Open
Source: Rockefeller University Press