cryo-SEM of hairs on the stem of a tobacco plant

Microscopy @ JIC

The aim of this site is to answer many of the questions asked of us from members of the public and, in particular, teachers and students. We hope that it will provide basic educational information and inspire you to learn more about microscopy.

Bioimaging at the John Innes Centre

The John Innes Centre (JIC) has been a leader in applying 3D and confocal fluorescence microscopy (imaging) in plant biology for many years. The continuing development of imaging technology and image processing, combined with its importance as a tool for functional genomics, are together driving current developments in bioimaging. For example, using genomics and proteomics it is possible to identify the components of cellular structures. However, to understand how they function it is necessary to determine their location within the cell and/or subcellular compartments. Immunofluorescence and GFP techniques permit analysis at the tissue and cellular level, while immunogold/epitope tagging allows detailed subcellular level investigation in the TEM.  For further information about the science that goes on at JIC, please see the JIC web site.

Latest news

Current bioimaging equipment at JIC now includes 5 confocal microscopes, two high performance cryo-SEMs, and a TEM. A recent development at JIC is the combination of a high sensitivity cooled CCD camera with spinning disc confocal imaging. This provides us with much better sensitivity, which allows lower and less destructive light levels to be used, enabling detailed dynamic analysis of living plants and cells. This technology is able to image thick, complex structures, such as whole plants, at low light levels and much higher speeds than conventional confocal microscopy, without inducing photodamage or phototoxicity. In March 2007, we installed a new confocal microscope (Zeiss meta 510) to replace an outdated model and another new confocal was installed in April 2008 (Zeiss exciter), bringing our total complement to 5. In April 2008 we also installed a new 200kV TEM with 3-D tomography capabilities and two digital cameras. This replaced our two old TEMs. At this point our imaging capabilities became 100% digital and we no longer have the need for any darkroom photographic facilities. In January 2008, the whole of the microscopy suite moved to a new location on the JIC site, which has been specially designed for our needs. This new purpose-built facility, together with the new equipment, will help us provide an even better quality of service to the scientists.

Ready To Cut Out Grass? Try Moss
We were contacted by a producer for National Public Radio's Science Friday, a science radio show in the States. They had come across our images of moss sporophytes in the microscopy gallery and have incorporated one of them into one of their videos. See www.sciencefriday.com/videos/watch/10228