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Assessing phototoxicity in live fluorescence imaging


Are the answers to biological questions obtained via live fluorescence microscopy substantially affected by phototoxicity? Although a single set of standards for assessing phototoxicity cannot exist owing to the breadth of samples and experimental questions associated with biological imaging, we need quantitative, practical assessments and reporting standards to ensure that imaging has a minimal impact on observed biological processes and sample health. Here we discuss the problem of phototoxicity in biology and suggest guidelines to improve its reporting and assessment.

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Figure 1: The effect of low levels of blue light on cell proliferation.
Figure 2: The four main considerations for live imaging.
Figure 3: Identifying species-specific criteria for the assessment of phototoxicity.


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The authors thank all the delegates of LSFM2016 who attended and contributed to an exciting roundtable discussion. LSFM2016 was supported by the Company of Biologists (EA1170). P.P.L. thanks R. Heintzmann, S. Fraser, J. Huisken, and J.A. Laissue for discussions on phototoxicity. This work was supported by the Royal Society (IF150018 to P.P.L.) and by King Abdulaziz University, Rabigh Campus, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (scholarship to R.A.A.).

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Correspondence to P Philippe Laissue.

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Laissue, P., Alghamdi, R., Tomancak, P. et al. Assessing phototoxicity in live fluorescence imaging. Nat Methods 14, 657–661 (2017).

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