Light-controlled Biology Methods in Nature Communications

Light-controlled technologies to probe and manipulate cellular activity have revolutionized basic life science research fields ranging from cell biology to neuroscience. These technologies are also being investigated as potential therapeutic approaches for illnesses like stroke and cancer. This cross-disciplinary collection brings together Nature Communications articles from biotechnology, optics, neuroscience, cell biology, and medicine that develop or apply light-controlled technologies.

In the Cell Biology section, we highlight articles that use engineered light-sensitive proteins or new inorganic and organic optical sensors  to gain insight into cellular processes such as intracellular signaling. Neuroscience is another discipline that has been revolutionized by light-controlled technologies, with optogenetics allowing neuroscientists to control genetically defined sets of neurons, and optical imaging of neuronal structure and activity during behavior becoming possible on larger scales. We highlight research and methods with especial relevance to the brain in the Neuroscience section. Although many light-controlled techniques now exist, methods developers continue to optimize and extend these non-invasive technologies (moving beyond light-control into thermo-, magneto- and sono- control), as we showcase in the Tool Development section. Finally, the Therapies section highlights Nature Communications papers that leverage light-controlled methods for disease applications.

This collection will be updated regularly with studies published in Nature Communications ​that feature new development and uses of light-controlled biology methods.

Editors representing subject areas from across the Nature Communications Life Sciences and Physical Sciences teams contributed to this collection. Below are just a few of the Nature Communications editors who are likely to handle your manuscripts concerning light-controlled biology methods. As many other editors may also handle manuscripts about this highly interdisciplinary topic, for a complete listing of all Nature Communications editors, see


The team oversees content selections for submissions in all areas of neuroscience – from molecular to systems and cognitive neuroscience - and psychology.  The team’s remit includes basic science research on the brain and behaviour of humans or animals, as well as clinical/translational studies on neurological and psychiatric disorders. Our neuroscience editors are also interested in studies that examine the interaction of the brain/nervous system with other systems of the body.

Team Manager and Senior Editor: Min Cho In addition to overseeing content and editorial process for the team, he handles neurogenetics and neurogenomics submissions. Min is based in the New York office. E-mail:*

Senior Editor: Fiona Carr Fiona manages submissions on neurodegeneration and neurological diseases, and is based in the London office. E-mail:*

Associate Editor: Sachin Ranade Sachin’s editorial remit include systems neuroscience and computational neuroscience.  Sachin is based in the New York Office. E-mail:*

Associate Editor: Jerome Staal Jerome handles submissions related to neurodevelopment, plasticity and molecular neuroscience. E-mail:



The biotechnology team handles manuscripts covering all aspects of biotechnology and the applied biological sciences. From systems and computational biology, to synthetic biology, genetic engineering and methods we publish papers enabling new discovery.

Team Manager and Senior Editor: Kyle Legate In addition to overseeing the journal’s biotechnology content, Kyle handles manuscripts in bioengineering. E-mail:*

Associate Editor: Chuanfu An Chuanfu handles manuscripts on plant genetics and biotechnology, microbial biotechnology, and general biotechnological development. E-mail:*

Senior Editor: Ross Cloney Ross's manuscript remit includes synthetic biology and genome engineering, as well as therapeutic biotechnology. E-mail:*

Associate Editor: Alfredo Sansone Alfredo handles cell biology methods, imaging, and organ-on-a-chip manuscripts. E-mail:*



Our team handles manuscripts across a wide variety of topics in physics; from fundamental concepts and proposals to experimental investigations with an applied and engineering emphasis. Our members have diverse and interdisciplinary research backgrounds and collectively we handle the areas of quantum, atomic, plasma, nuclear and high-energy physics, optics, and acoustics.

Team Manager and Associate Editor: Lina Persechini Lina handles manuscripts in various areas of photonics and metamaterials and she is based in the London office. E-mail:*

Associate Editor: Nina Meinzer Nina mainly handles manuscripts in nonlinear optics, lasers and optomechanics. She is based in the London office. E-mail:*

Associate Editor: Heather Partner Heather handles manuscripts in various areas of optical physics, including optical communications, terahertz and microwave optics. E-mail:*



The cell and developmental biology team handles manuscripts on all aspects of cell biology, research into the biology of reproduction, stem cells, regeneration and developmental biology.

Team Manager and Senior Editor: Natascha Bushati Natasha currently handles papers in the area of reproduction. Natascha is based in the London office. E-mail:*

Associate Editor: Daryl David Daryl currently handles manuscripts in cell biology including membranes and trafficking, cell division and cell cycle, cell motility and adhesion, mechanobiology, and nuclear cell biology.  E-mail:*

Senior Editor: Ann Le Good Ann covers as main topics: development, regeneration, bioengineering and embryonic stem cells. E-mail:*