Liquid-Cell Electron Tomography of Biological Systems

William J. Dearnaley, Beatrice Schleupner, A. Cameron Varano, Nick A. Alden, Floricel Gonzalez, Michael A. Casasanta, Birgit E. Scharf, Madeline J. Dukes, Deborah F. Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Liquid-cell electron microscopy is a rapidly growing field in the imaging domain. While real-time observations are readily available to analyze materials and biological systems, these measurementshave been limited to the two-dimensional (2-D) image plane. Here, we introduce an exciting technical advance to image materials in 3-D while enclosed in liquid. The development of liquid-cell electron tomography permitted us to observe and quantify host-pathogen interactions in solution while contained in the vacuum system of the electron microscope. In doing so, we demonstrate new insights for the rules of engagement involving a unique bacteriophage and its host bacterium. A deeper analysis of the genetic content of the phage pathogens revealed structural features of the infectious units while introducing a new paradigm for host interactions. Overall, we demonstrate a technological opportunity to elevate research efforts for in situ imaging while providing a new level of dimensionality beyond the current state of the field.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)6734-6741
Number of pages8
JournalNano letters
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 9 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Bioengineering
  • General Chemistry
  • General Materials Science
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering


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