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Picroscope: low-cost system for simultaneous longitudinal biological imaging.

Abstract

Simultaneous longitudinal imaging across multiple conditions and replicates has been crucial for scientific studies aiming to understand biological processes and disease. Yet, imaging systems capable of accomplishing these tasks are economically unattainable for most academic and teaching laboratories around the world. Here, we propose the Picroscope, which is the first low-cost system for simultaneous longitudinal biological imaging made primarily using off-the-shelf and 3D-printed materials. The Picroscope is compatible with standard 24-well cell culture plates and captures 3D z-stack image data. The Picroscope can be controlled remotely, allowing for automatic imaging with minimal intervention from the investigator. Here, we use this system in a range of applications. We gathered longitudinal whole organism image data for frogs, zebrafish, and planaria worms. We also gathered image data inside an incubator to observe 2D monolayers and 3D mammalian tissue culture models. Using this tool, we can measure the behavior of entire organisms or individual cells over long-time periods.

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