Liquid-Cell Electron Tomography of Biological Systems

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 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
  • Chemistry(all)
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Condensed Matter Physics
  • Mechanical Engineering

Cite this

Dearnaley, W., Schleupner, B., Varano, C., Alden, N. A., Gonzalez, F., Casasanta, M. A., Scharf, B. E., Dukes, M. J., & Kelly, D. (2019). Liquid-Cell Electron Tomography of Biological Systems. Nano letters, 19(10), 6734-6741.