The Quest for Four-Dimensional Imaging in Plant Cell Biology: It's Just a Matter of Time

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Annals of Botany






Background Analysis of plant cell dynamics over time, or four-dimensional imaging (4-DI), represents a major goal of plant science. The ability to resolve structures in the third dimension within the cell or tissue during developmental events or in response to environmental or experimental stresses (i.e. 4-DI) is critical to our understanding of gene expression, post-expression modulations of macromolecules and sub-cellular system interactions.

Scope Microscopy-based technologies have been profoundly integral to this type of investigation, and new and refined microscopy technologies now allow for the visualization of cell dynamics with unprecedented resolution, contrast and experimental versatility. However, certain realities of light and electron microscopy, choice of specimen and specimen preparation techniques limit the scope of readily attaining 4-DI. Today, the plant microscopist must use a combinatorial strategy whereby multiple microscopy-based investigations are used. Modern fluorescence, confocal laser scanning, transmission electron and scanning electron microscopy provide effective conduits for synthesizing data detailing live cell dynamics and highly resolved snapshots of specific cell structures that will ultimately lead to 4-DI. This review provides a synopsis of such technologies available.


Four-dimensional imaging, confocal laser scanning microscopy, fluorophores, transmission electron microscopy, plant cell biology