Software tools, data structures, and interfaces for microscope imaging

Nico Stuurman, Jason R. Swedlow

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    9 Citations (Scopus)


    The arrival of electronic photodetectors in biological microscopy has led to a revolution in the application of imaging in cell and developmental biology. The extreme photosensitivity of electronic photodetectors has enabled the routine use of multidimensional data acquisition spanning space and time and spectral range in live cell and tissue imaging. These techniques have provided key insights into the molecular and structural dynamics of living biology. However, digital photodetectors offer another advantage-they provide a linear mapping between the photon flux coming from the sample and the electronic sample they produce. Thus, an image presented as a visual representation of the sample is also a quantitative measurement of photon flux. These quantitative measurements are the basis of subsequent processing and analysis to improve signal contrast, to compare changes in the concentration of signal, and to reveal changes in cell structure and dynamics. For this reason, many laboratories and companies have committed their resources to software development, resulting in the availability of a large number of image-processing and analysis packages. In this article, we review the software tools for image data analysis that are now available and give some examples of their use in imaging experiments to reveal new insights into biological mechanisms. In our final section, we highlight some of the new directions for image analysis that are significant unmet challenges and present our own ideas for future directions.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)50-61
    Number of pages12
    JournalCold Spring Harbor Protocols
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2012


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