We assess the measurement of hyperspectral reflectance for outdoor monitoring of green algae and cyanobacteria cultures with a multichannel, fiber-coupled spectroradiometer. Reflectance data acquired over a 4-week period are interpreted via numerical inversion of a reflectance model, in which the above-water reflectance is expressed as a quadratic function of the single backscattering albedo, which is dependent on the absorption and backscatter coefficients. The absorption coefficient is treated as the sum of component spectra consisting of the cultured species (green algae or cyanobacteria), dissolved organic matter, and water (including the temperature dependence of the water absorption spectrum). The backscatter coefficient is approximated as the scaled Hilbert transform of the culture absorption spectrum with a wavelength-independent vertical offset. Additional terms in the reflectance model account for the pigment fluorescence features and the water-surface reflection of sunlight and skylight. For the green algae and cyanobacteria, the wavelength-independent vertical offset of the backscatter coefficient is found to scale linearly with daily dry weight measurements, providing the capability for a nonsampling measurement of biomass in outdoor ponds. Other fitting parameters in the reflectance model are compared with auxiliary measurements and physics-based calculations. The model-derived magnitudes of sunlight and skylight water-surface reflections compare favorably with Fresnel reflectance calculations, while the model-derived quantum efficiency of Chl-a fluorescence is found to be in agreement with literature values. Finally, the water temperatures derived from the reflectance model exhibit excellent agreement with thermocouple measurements during the morning hours but correspond to significantly elevated temperatures in the afternoon hours.
Carbon concentrating mechanisms (CCMs) are common among microalgae, but their regulation and even existence in some of the most promising biofuel production strains is poorly understood. This is partly because screening for new strains does not commonly include assessment of CCM function or regulation despite its fundamental role in primary carbon metabolism. In addition, the inducible nature of many microalgal CCMs means that environmental conditions should be considered when assessing CCM function and its potential impact on biofuels. In this study, we address the effect of environmental conditions by combining novel, high frequency, on-line (13)CO2 gas exchange screen with microscope-based lipid characterization to assess CCM function in Nannochloropsis salina and its interaction with lipid production. Regulation of CCM function was explored by changing the concentration of CO2 provided to continuous cultures in airlift bioreactors where cell density was kept constant across conditions by controlling the rate of media supply. Our isotopic gas exchange results were consistent with N. salina having an inducible "pump-leak" style CCM similar to that of Nannochloropsis gaditana. Though cells grew faster at high CO2 and had higher rates of net CO2 uptake, we did not observe significant differences in lipid content between conditions. Since the rate of CO2 supply was much higher for the high CO2 conditions, we calculated that growing cells bubbled with low CO2 is about 40 % more efficient for carbon capture than bubbling with high CO2. We attribute this higher efficiency to the activity of a CCM under low CO2 conditions.
Biofuels derived from the mass cultivation of algae represent an emerging industry that aims to partially displace petroleum based fuels. Outdoor, open-pond, and raceway production facilities are attractive options for the mass culture of algae however, this mode of cultivation leaves the algae susceptible to epidemics from a variety of environmental challenges. Infestations can result in complete collapse of the algal populations and destruction of their valuable products making it paramount to understand the host-pathogen relationships of known algal pests in order to develop mitigation strategies. In the present work, we characterize the spatial-temporal response of photosynthetic pigments in Scenedesmus dimorphus to infection from Amoeboaphelidium protococcarum, a destructive endoparasite, with the goal of understanding the potential for early detection of infection via host pigment changes. We employed a hyperspectral confocal fluorescence microscope to quantify these changes in pigmentation with high spatial and spectral resolution during early parasite infection. Carotenoid abundance and autofluorescence increased within the first 24 h of infection while chlorophyll emission remained constant. Changes in host cell photosynthesis and bulk chlorophyll content were found to lag behind parasite replication. The results herein raise the possibility of using host-cell pigment changes as indicators of nascent parasite infection.
Increased accumulation of specific carotenoids in plastids through plant breeding or genetic engineering requires an understanding of the limitations that storage sites for these compounds may impose on that accumulation. Here, using Capsicum annuum L. fruit, we demonstrate directly the unique sub-organellar accumulation sites of specific carotenoids using live cell hyperspectral confocal Raman microscopy. Further, we show that chromoplasts from specific cultivars vary in shape and size, and these structural variations are associated with carotenoid compositional differences. Live-cell imaging utilizing laser scanning confocal (LSCM) and confocal Raman microscopy, as well as fixed tissue imaging by scanning and transmission electron microscopy (SEM and TEM), all demonstrated morphological differences with high concordance for the measurements across the multiple imaging modalities. These results reveal additional opportunities for genetic controls on fruit color and carotenoid-based phenotypes.
Photosynthetic organisms rely on antenna systems to harvest and deliver energy from light to reaction centers. In fluctuating photic environments, regulation of light harvesting is critical for a photosynthetic organisms survival. Here, we describe the use of a suite of phycobilisome mutants to probe the consequences of antenna truncation in the cyanobacterium Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. Studies using transmission electron microscopy (TEM), hyperspectral confocal fluorescence microscopy (HCFM), small-angle neutron scattering (SANS), and an optimized photobioreactor system have unraveled the adaptive strategies that cells employ to compensate for antenna reduction. As the phycobilisome antenna size decreased, changes in thylakoid morphology were more severe and physical segregation of the two photosystems increased. Repeating distances between thylakoid membranes measured by SANS were correlated with TEM data, and corresponded to the degree of phycobilisome truncation. Thylakoid membranes were found to have a high degree of structural flexibility, and changes in the membrane system upon illumination were rapid and reversible. Phycobilisome truncation in Synechocystis 6803 reduced the growth rate and lowered biomass accumulation. Together, these results lend a dynamic perspective to the intracellular membrane organization in cyanobacteria cells and suggest an adaptive mechanism that allows cells to adjust to altered light absorption capabilities, while highlighting the cell-wide implications of antenna truncation.
Haematococcus pluvialis is a freshwater unicellular green microalga belonging to the class Chlorophyceae and is of commercial interest for its ability to accumulate massive amounts of the red ketocarotenoid astaxanthin (3,3-dihydroxy-?,?-carotene-4,4-dione). Using confocal Raman microscopy and multivariate analysis, we demonstrate the ability to spectrally resolve resonance-enhanced Raman signatures associated with astaxanthin and ?-carotene along with chlorophyll fluorescence. By mathematically isolating these spectral signatures, in turn, it is possible to locate these species independent of each other in living cells of H. pluvialis in various stages of the life cycle. Chlorophyll emission was found only in the chloroplast whereas astaxanthin was identified within globular and punctate regions of the cytoplasmic space. Moreover, we found evidence for ?-carotene to be co-located with both the chloroplast and astaxanthin in the cytosol. These observations imply that ?-carotene is a precursor for astaxanthin and the synthesis of astaxanthin occurs outside the chloroplast. Our work demonstrates the broad utility of confocal Raman microscopy to resolve spectral signatures of highly similar chromophores in living cells.
The biocompatibility and possible toxicological consequences of engineered nanomaterials, including quantum dots (QDs) due to their unique suitability for biomedical applications, remain intense areas of interest. We utilized advanced imaging approaches to characterize the interactions of CdSe QDs of various sizes and shapes with live immune cells. Particle diffusion and partitioning within the plasma membrane, cellular uptake kinetics, and sorting of particles into lysosomes were all independantly characterized. Using high-speed total internal reflectance fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy, we show that QDs with an average aspect ratio of 2.0 (i.e., rod-shaped) diffuse nearly an order of magnitude slower in the plasma membrane than more spherical particles with aspect ratios of 1.2 and 1.6, respectively. Moreover, more rod-shaped QDs were shown to be internalized into the cell 2-3 fold more slowly. Hyperspectral confocal fluorescence microscopy demonstrates that QDs tend to partition within the cell membrane into regions containing a single particle type. Furthermore, data examining QD sorting mechanisms indicate that endocytosis and lysosomal sorting increases with particle size. Together, these observations suggest that both size and aspect ratio of a nanoparticle are important characteristics that significantly impact interactions with the plasma membrane, uptake into the cell, and localization within intracellular vesicles. Thus, rather than simply characterizing nanoparticle uptake into cells, we show that utilization of advanced imaging approaches permits a more nuanced and complete examination of the multiple aspects of cell-nanoparticle interactions that can ultimately aid understanding possible mechanisms of toxicity, resulting in safer nanomaterial designs.
Cellular autofluorescence, though ubiquitous when imaging cells and tissues, is often assumed to be small in comparison to the signal of interest. Uniform estimates of autofluorescence intensity obtained from separate control specimens are commonly employed to correct for autofluorescence. While these may be sufficient for high signal-to-background applications, improvements in detector and probe technologies and introduction of spectral imaging microscopes have increased the sensitivity of fluorescence imaging methods, exposing the possibility of effectively probing the low signal-to-background regime. With spectral imaging, reliable monitoring of signals near or even below the noise levels of the microscope is possible if compensation for autofluorescence and background signals can be performed accurately. We demonstrate the importance of accurate autofluorescence modeling and the utility of spectral imaging and multivariate analysis methods using a case study focusing on fluorescence confocal spectral imaging of host-pathogen interactions. In this application fluorescent proteins are produced when Francisella novicida invade host macrophage cells. The resulting analyte signal is spectrally overlapped and typically weaker than the cellular autofluorescence. In addition to discussing the advantages of spectral imaging for following pathogen invasion, we present the spectral properties and cellular origin of macrophage autofluorescence.
There is considerable interest in the signaling mechanisms of immunoreceptors, especially when triggered with membrane-bound ligands. We have quantified the spatiotemporal dynamics of the redistribution of immunoglobulin E-loaded receptors (IgE-FcepsilonRI) on rat basophilic leukemia-2H3 mast cells in contact with fluid and gel-phase membranes displaying ligands for immunoglobulin E, using total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy. To clearly separate the kinetics of receptor redistribution from cell spreading, and to precisely define the initial contact time (+/-50 ms), micropipette cell manipulation was used to bring individual cells into contact with surfaces. On ligand-free surfaces, there are micron-scale heterogeneities in fluorescence that likely reflect regions of the cell that are more closely apposed to the substrate. When ligands are present, receptor clusters form with this same size scale. The initial rate of accumulation of receptors into the clusters is consistent with diffusion-limited trapping with D approximately 10(-1) microm2/s. These results support the hypothesis that clusters form by diffusion to cell-surface contact regions. Over longer timescales (>10 s), individual clusters moved with both diffusive and directed motion components. The dynamics of the cluster motion is similar to the dynamics of membrane fluctuations of cells on ligand-free fluid membranes. Thus, the same cellular machinery may be responsible for both processes.
Fc epsilonRI on mast cells form a synapse when presented with mobile, bilayer-incorporated Ag. In this study, we show that receptor reorganization within the contacting mast cell membrane is markedly different upon binding of mobile and immobilized ligands. Rat basophilic leukemia mast cells primed with fluorescent anti-DNP IgE were engaged by surfaces presenting either bilayer-incorporated, monovalent DNP-lipid (mobile ligand), or chemically cross-linked, multivalent DNP (immobilized ligand). Total internal reflection fluorescence imaging and electron microscopy methods were used to visualize receptor reorganization at the contact site. The spatial relationships of Fc epsilonRI to other cellular components at the synapse, such as actin, cholesterol, and linker for activation of T cells, were also analyzed. Stimulation of mast cells with immobilized polyvalent ligand resulted in typical levels of degranulation. Remarkably, degranulation also followed interaction of mast cells, with bilayers presenting mobile, monovalent ligand. Receptors engaged with mobile ligand coalesce into large, cholesterol-rich clusters that occupy the central portion of the contacting membrane. These data indicate that Fc epsilonRI cross-linking is not an obligatory step in triggering mast cell signaling and suggest that dense populations of mobile receptors are capable of initiating low-level degranulation upon ligand recognition.
Many membrane receptors are recruited to specific cell surface domains to form nanoscale clusters upon ligand activation. This step appears to be necessary to initiate cell signaling, including pathways in innate immune system activation. However, virulent pathogens such as Yersinia pestis (the causative agent of plague) are known to evade innate immune detection, in contrast to similar microbes (such as Escherichia coli) that elicit a robust response. This disparity has been partly attributed to the structure of lipopolysaccharides (LPS) on the bacterial cell wall, which are recognized by the innate immune receptor TLR4. It is hypothesized that nanoscale differences exist between the spatial clustering of TLR4 upon binding of LPS derived from Y. pestis and E. coli. Although optical imaging can provide exquisite details of the spatial organization of biomolecules, there is a mismatch between the scale at which receptor clustering occurs (<300 nm) and the optical diffraction limit (>400 nm). The last decade has seen the emergence of super-resolution imaging methods that effectively break the optical diffraction barrier to yield truly nanoscale information in intact biological samples. This study reports the first visualizations of TLR4 distributions on intact cells at image resolutions of <30 nm using a novel, dual-color stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM) technique. This methodology permits distinction between receptors containing bound LPS from those without at the nanoscale. Importantly, it is also shown that LPS derived from immunostimulatory bacteria result in significantly higher LPS-TLR4 cluster sizes and a nearly twofold greater ligand/receptor colocalization as compared to immunoevading LPS.
Cyanobacteria are oxygenic photosynthetic prokaryotes that are the progenitors of the chloroplasts of algae and plants. These organisms harvest light using large membrane-extrinsic phycobilisome antenna in addition to membrane-bound chlorophyll-containing proteins. Similar to eukaryotic photosynthetic organisms, cyanobacteria possess thylakoid membranes that house photosystem (PS) I and PSII, which drive the oxidation of water and the reduction of NADP+, respectively. While thylakoid morphology has been studied in some strains of cyanobacteria, the global distribution of PSI and PSII within the thylakoid membrane and the corresponding location of the light-harvesting phycobilisomes are not known in detail, and such information is required to understand the functioning of cyanobacterial photosynthesis on a larger scale. Here, we have addressed this question using a combination of electron microscopy and hyperspectral confocal fluorescence microscopy in wild-type Synechocystis species PCC 6803 and a series of mutants in which phycobilisomes are progressively truncated. We show that as the phycobilisome antenna is diminished, large-scale changes in thylakoid morphology are observed, accompanied by increased physical segregation of the two photosystems. Finally, we quantified the emission intensities originating from the two photosystems in vivo on a per cell basis to show that the PSI:PSII ratio is progressively decreased in the mutants. This results from both an increase in the amount of photosystem II and a decrease in the photosystem I concentration. We propose that these changes are an adaptive strategy that allows cells to balance the light absorption capabilities of photosystems I and II under light-limiting conditions.
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