Location: Soybean Genomics and Improvement
Project Number: 8042-22000-278-00
Start Date: Mar 25, 2012
End Date: Mar 24, 2017
The Electron and Confocal Microscopy Unit (ECMU) is a core facility which provides collaborative assistance for the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center scientists in need of high resolution imaging in their research programs. The facility is equipped with state-of-the-art electron microscopes [transmission (TEM) and scanning (SEM)] and a confocal laser scanning microscope (CLSM). A scanning electron microscope equipped with a cryostage allows samples to be studied in the frozen state for the observation of ultra-delicate external structures of organisms and the study of behavioral interactions on their hosts. Variable pressure SEM requires minimal specimen preparation for rapid observation of specimens. The ECMU also possesses a high-resolution transmission electron microscope that is used to obtain detailed internal ultra-structural information from very thin sections of plastic embedded material. The CLSM permits the study of fluorescent organelles, tissue, proteins, cells with high color contrast and in 3 dimensions. Cellular and subcellular structures are easily observed and photographed using these approaches to provide compositional information as well. Techniques including critical point drying, freeze drying, freeze substitution, freeze etching, rapid freezing, negative staining, thin sectioning, sputter coating, high vacuum evaporation, immunogold labeling, single and multiplex fluorescent labeling are performed on a wide variety of sample types that arise from research projects at BARC. If existing methods are inadequate for appropriately viewing a particular specimen, new techniques, preparative methodologies, fluorochromes, specimen holders and equipment are designed and developed. Training will be provided to staff of collaborating scientists to assist in creating and enhancing images. The final result is dramatic, high-resolution, digitally-achievable images of many of the most important organisms affecting agriculture.