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Fluorescence Microscopy

  1. Ken Jacobson

Published Online: 15 MAR 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0002637.pub2



How to Cite

Jacobson, K. 2010. Fluorescence Microscopy. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 MAR 2010


Fluorescence microscopy in biomedical research is a light microscope technique designed to view fluorescence emission from a biological specimen. It has become an extremely useful tool to localize genes, messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) and proteins within live and fixed cells and tissues. Cell biology has been revolutionized by the discovery and applications of green fluorescent protein, and its many mutant forms, that can be fused to a cellular protein of interest, making it possible to localize and study the dynamics of that protein in living cells. In addition, the development of other fluorescent reporters, based on small molecule dyes, has made it possible to visualize spatiotemporal variations in intracellular calcium as well as other ions and metabolites and the activity of components in signal transduction networks using specialized biosensors.

Key Concepts

  • Fluorescence microscopy enables visualization of the emission from fluorescent compounds in various specimens to submicron spatial resolution.

  • Fluorophores are molecules that emit longer wavelength that emit light after absorption of shorter wavelength light.

  • Biosensors are fluorophores that report on the location and activity of molecules or ions that, typically, are involved in signalling networks.


  • fluorescence microscopy;
  • fluorescent probes;
  • biosensors;
  • lasers;
  • immunofluorescence;
  • fluorescence in situ hybridization