Slicing embryos gently with laser light sheets



Light sheet microscopy is an easy to implement and extremely powerful alternative to established fluorescence imaging techniques such as laser scanning confocal, multi-photon and spinning disk microscopy. By illuminating the sample only with a thin slice of light, photo-bleaching is reduced to a minimum, making light sheet microscopy ideal for non-destructive imaging of fragile samples over extended periods of time. Millimeter-sized samples can be imaged rapidly with high resolution and high depth penetration. A large variety of instruments have been developed and optimized for a number of different samples: Bessel beams form thin light sheets for single cells, and selective plane illumination microscopy (SPIM) offers multi-view acquisition to image entire embryos with isotropic resolution. This review explains how light sheet microscopy involves a conceptually new microscope design and how it changes modern imaging in biology.