Like a cluster of Christmas fairy lights, this mosaic of colour is made of cells that have been genetically changed to produce fluorescent proteins. In the glare of a rapidly pulsing laser beam, cells in living tissue – the example here is a slice of spinal cord from a chicken embryo – glow in hues of red, blue and green. Scientists can then see how they behave in different circumstances, for example when tissue is being created, repaired or becomes diseased. This image is taken from a time-lapsed 3D video sequence of developing nerve cells. To be able to see all three colours simultaneously in real time pulses of laser light are synchronised to only a few millionths of a billionth of a second in duration, a feat possible only with recent advances in technology.
Written by Mick Warwicker
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.