• bacteria;
  • ferritin;
  • high-Z element;
  • micro-CT;
  • three-dimensional structure

This paper reports X-ray microtomographic visualization of the microorganism Escherichia coli overexpressing a metalloprotein ferritin. The three-dimensional distribution of linear absorption coefficients determined using a synchrotron radiation microtomograph with a simple projection geometry revealed that the X-ray absorption was homogeneously distributed, suggesting that every E. coli cell was labeled with the ferritin. The ferritin-expressing E. coli exhibited linear absorption coefficients comparable with those of phosphotungstic acid stained cells. The submicrometer structure of the ferritin-expressing E. coli cells was visualized by Zernike phase contrast using an imaging microtomograph equipped with a Fresnel zone plate. The obtained images revealed curved columnar or bunching oval structures corresponding to the E. coli cells. These results indicate that the metalloprotein overexpression facilitates X-ray visualization of three-dimensional cellular structures of biological objects.