Imaging Facility
Low Light

Imaging Systems and links

For genetics and screening: We use TopCount automated scintillation counters from Packard (now PerkinElmer) to obtain high-throughput, quantitative luminescence data, growing seedlings in 96-well plates. This model is useful because it holds the plates in stacks outside the instrument, where lighting can be applied.

For leaf movement: We use simple, multi-channel video systems for monitoring leaf movement and plant growth rhythms. This is advantageous because it doesn't depend on a reporter gene.

To image luminescence from luciferase reporters, our lab uses two types of low-light camera. These are housed in a purpose-built imaging facility.

The selection of a camera system can be complex - we strongly recommend an on-site, head-to-head demonstration of a few, suitable instruments, with the biological materials of interest and the manufacturer's local support staff. Deep cooling (below -70C) and a back-thinned CCD sensor are required for our applications, unless the cameras include intensification.

A few jargon-busting resources are available on the Web; the trade publications are also a good resource (such as Advanced Imaging or Biophotonics). As better Peltier cooling becomes available, new camera designs should avoid the major inconveniences of cryogenic cooling with liquid nitrogen for very low-light work. The CryoTiger LN-free cooling system was a promising development, but is now superseded by 'deeper' Peltier cooling.

Systems of interest for luminescence might include cameras from Photonic Science, systems from Photek or the turn-key systems NightOwl (from Berthold, now PerkinElmer) and Aequoria (from Hamamatsu). On-chip electron amplification CCDs are now available in cameras from Andor, Hamamatsu and Roper, e.g. the Cascade series. Hamamatsu also offers electron-bombardment cameras, another form of intensification.

Video Imaging Links

bulletUniversal Imaging Ltd - UK. (01628) 890 858. Dr. John Wilkinson. Princeton Instruments cameras, etc.
bulletHamamatsu Photonics Ltd. - UK. (01707) 294 888.
bulletUniversal Imaging Corp. - USA. (original developers of Metamorph software, now owned by Molecular Devices).

(see also Luciferase for other labs using low-light cameras to detect luciferase, and Movies for alternative cameras for imaging plant growth)

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