Deep imaging of live tissue

Watching biological processes in vivo has piqued interest for centuries. But the less-than-transparent nature of some of our favorite models and the need for imaging large volumes at high speed pose fundamental hurdles to in vivo optical imaging. Fortunately, advances in optical imaging techniques have helped overcome some of these challenges, making it possible to visualize processes such as early development in flies, beating of the heart in fish, and neural activity in the rodent brain with high spatial and temporal resolution.

This web collection features recent content from several Nature Research journals that has been selected by the editors at Nature Methods. The research papers and commentaries we highlight cover a representative, but certainly not comprehensive, set of methodological developments that facilitate imaging of biological processes within organisms and tissues. We hope you enjoy browsing this collection.

Image: E. Dewalt, Nature Research; T. Katsuki, D. Grover and R. Greenspan, University of California, San Diego; F. Cutrale and L. Trinh, University of Southern California, Los Angeles; R. Chhetri and P. Keller, Janelia Research Campus. 

Reviews and Comment

Yang and Yuste review currently available technologies for optical imaging of neural circuits, comparing them to help researchers choose optimal ones for their applications.

Review Article | | Nature Methods

A new set of imaging techniques that take advantage of scattered light may soon lead to key advances in biomedical optics, providing access to depths well beyond what is currently possible with ballistic light.

Feature | | Nature Photonics

Ji et al. review emerging microscopy technologies that enable large-volume imaging of neural circuits. Focusing on two-photon fluorescence microscopy, they explored critical factors that limit imaging speed and restrict image volume, and also discuss three-dimensional imaging methods and their applications in rapid volume imaging of neural activity.

Review Article | | Nature Neuroscience

Light-sheet fluorescence microscopy techniques are enabling researchers to achieve dynamic, long-term imaging and three-dimensional reconstruction of specimens ranging from single cells to whole embryos.

News Feature | | Nature Methods

Primary Research

Flyception is a tracking and imaging system that enables the monitoring of brain activity in freely walking fruit flies, making the analysis of calcium dynamics possible in studies of neural mechanisms such as those that underlie social behaviors.

Brief Communication | | Nature Methods

Lecoq and colleagues introduce a two-photon microscope with two articulated arms that can image nearly any two brain regions, nearby or distant, simultaneously. They validate this new system by imaging calcium signals in two visual cortical areas in behaving mice, and find evidence suggesting activity fluctuations can propagate between cortical areas

Technical Report | | Nature Neuroscience