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J Microsc. 2004 Nov;216(Pt 2):131-7.

Automatic real-time three-dimensional cell tracking by fluorescence microscopy.

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Gene Expression and Cell Biology/Biophysics Programmes, European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Meyerhofstrasse 1, D-69117 Heidelberg, Germany.


Live cell imaging has become an indispensable technique for cell biologists. However, when grown on coverslip glass used for live cell imaging many cultured cells move even during relatively short observation times and focus can drift as a result of mechanical instabilities and/or temperature fluctuations. Time-lapse imaging therefore requires constant adjustment of the imaging field and focus position to keep the cell of interest centred in the imaged volume. We show here that this limitation can be overcome by tracking cells in a fully automated way using the mass centre of cellular fluorescence. Combined with automated multiple location revisiting, this method dramatically increases the throughput of high-resolution live cell imaging experiments.

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