Shaw, S. L.
Imaging the live plant cell. The Plant Journal 45: 573-598 (2006).

Observing a biological event as it unfolds in the living cell provides unique insight into the nature of the phenomenon under study. Capturing live cell data differs from imaging fixed preparations because living plants respond to the intense light used in the imaging process. In addition, live plant cells are inherently thick specimens containing colored and fluorescent molecules often removed when the plant is fixed and sectioned. For fixed cells, the straightforward goal is to maximize contrast and resolution. For live cell imaging, maximizing contrast and resolution will probably damage the specimen or rapidly bleach the probe. Therefore, the goals are different. Live cell imaging seeks a balance between image quality and the information content that comes with increasing contrast and resolution. That 'lousy' live cell image may contain all the information needed to answer the question being posed -provided the investigator properly framed the question and imaged the cells appropriately. Successful data collection from live cells requires developing a specimen-mounting protocol, careful selection and alignment of microscope components, and a clear understanding of how the microscope system generates contrast and resolution. This paper discusses general aspects of modern live cell imaging and the special considerations for imaging live plant specimens.