Look@NanoSIMS – a tool for the analysis of nanoSIMS data in environmental microbiology


E-mail lpolerec@mpi-bremen.de; Tel. (+49) (0) 421 2028 834; Fax (+49) (0) 421 2028 834.


We describe an open-source freeware programme for high throughput analysis of nanoSIMS (nanometre-scale secondary ion mass spectrometry) data. The programme implements basic data processing and analytical functions, including display and drift-corrected accumulation of scanned planes, interactive and semi-automated definition of regions of interest (ROIs), and export of the ROIs' elemental and isotopic composition in graphical and text-based formats. Additionally, the programme offers new functions that were custom-designed to address the needs of environmental microbiologists. Specifically, it allows manual and automated classification of ROIs based on the information that is derived either from the nanoSIMS dataset itself (e.g. from labelling achieved by halogen in situ hybridization) or is provided externally (e.g. as a fluorescence in situ hybridization image). Moreover, by implementing post-processing routines coupled to built-in statistical tools, the programme allows rapid synthesis and comparative analysis of results from many different datasets. After validation of the programme, we illustrate how these new processing and analytical functions increase flexibility, efficiency and depth of the nanoSIMS data analysis. Through its custom-made and open-source design, the programme provides an efficient, reliable and easily expandable tool that can help a growing community of environmental microbiologists and researchers from other disciplines process and analyse their nanoSIMS data.