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Free Content Subdiffraction‐resolution live‐cell imaging for visualizing thylakoid membranes

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The chloroplast is the chlorophyll‐containing organelle that produces energy through photosynthesis. Within the chloroplast is an intricate network of thylakoid membranes containing photosynthetic membrane proteins that mediate electron transport and generate chemical energy. Historically, electron microscopy (EM) has been a powerful tool for visualizing the macromolecular structure and organization of thylakoid membranes. However, an understanding of thylakoid membrane dynamics remains elusive because EM requires fixation and sectioning. To improve our knowledge of thylakoid membrane dynamics we need to consider at least two issues: (i) the live‐cell imaging conditions needed to visualize active processes in vivo; and (ii) the spatial resolution required to differentiate the characteristics of thylakoid membranes. Here, we utilize three‐dimensional structured illumination microscopy (3D‐SIM) to explore the optimal imaging conditions for investigating the dynamics of thylakoid membranes in living plant and algal cells. We show that 3D‐SIM is capable of examining broad characteristics of thylakoid structures in chloroplasts of the vascular plant Arabidopsis thaliana and distinguishing the structural differences between wild‐type and mutant strains. Using 3D‐SIM, we also visualize thylakoid organization in whole cells of the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. These data reveal that high light intensity changes thylakoid membrane structure in C. reinhardtii. Moreover, we observed the green alga Chromochloris zofingiensis and the moss Physcomitrella patens to show the applicability of 3D‐SIM. This study demonstrates that 3D‐SIM is a promising approach for studying the dynamics of thylakoid membranes in photoautotrophic organisms during photoacclimation processes.
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Keywords: Arabidopsis thaliana; Chlamydomonas reinhardtii; live‐cell imaging; structured illumination microscopy; technical advance; thylakoid structure

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2018

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