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Light sheet microscopy for everyone? Experience of building an OpenSPIM to study flatworm development

By Johannes Girstmair, Anne Zakrzewski, Fran├žois Lapraz, Mette Handberg-Thorsager, Pavel Tomancak, Peter Gabriel Pitrone, Fraser Simpson, Maximilian J. Telford

Posted 23 Mar 2016
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/045187 (published DOI: 10.1186/s12861-016-0122-0)

BACKGROUND: Selective plane illumination microscopy (SPIM a type of light sheet microscopy) involves focusing a thin sheet of laser light through a specimen at right angles to the objective lens. As only the thin section of the specimen at the focal plane of the lens is illuminated, out of focus light is naturally absent and toxicity due to light (phototoxicity) is greatly reduced enabling longer term live imaging. OpenSPIM is an open access platform (Pitrone et al. 2013 and OpenSPIM.org) created to give new users step by step instructions on building a basic configuration of a SPIM microscope, which can in principle be adapted and upgraded to each laboratorys own requirements and budget. Here we describe our own experience with the process of designing, building, configuring and using an OpenSPIM for our research into the early development of the polyclad flatworm Maritigrella crozieri, a non model animal. RESULTS: Our OpenSPIM builds on the standard design with the addition of two colour laser illumination for simultaneous detection of two probes/molecules and dual sided illumination, which provides more even signal intensity across a specimen. Our OpenSPIM provides high resolution 3d images and time lapse recordings, and we demonstrate the use of two colour lasers and the benefits of two color dual-sided imaging. We used our microscope to study the development of the embryo of the polyclad flatworm Maritigrella crozieri. The capabilities of our microscope are demonstrated by our ability to record the stereotypical spiral cleavage pattern of Maritigrella with high speed multi view time lapse imaging. 3D and 4D (3D and time) reconstruction of early development from these data is possible using image registration and deconvolution tools provided as part of the open source Fiji platform. We discuss our findings on the pros and cons of a self built microscope. CONCLUSIONS: We conclude that home built microscopes, such as an OpenSPIM, together with the available open source software, such as MicroManager and Fiji, make SPIM accessible to anyone interested in having continuous access to their own light-sheet microscope. However, building an OpenSPIM is not without challenges and an open access microscope is a worthwhile, if significant, investment of time and money. Multi view 4D microscopy is more challenging than we had expected. We hope that our gained experience during this project will help future OpenSPIM users with similar ambitions.

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