Title: Quantifying embryonic development with smart and gentle light sheet microscopy
Abstract: Selective plane illumination microscopy (SPIM) has changed the field of in vivo imaging dramatically by offering a versatile and simple technique to obtain optical sectioning deep inside living specimens. By illuminating the sample with a thin sheet of light and collecting fluorescence with a fast and sensitive camera, phototoxicity is minimal and high speed acquisitions of long developmental processes have become possible. The ability to custom design a SPIM instrument around a sample has empowered many research labs to do experiments that have been impossible with commercial instruments. The enormous amounts of data from these instruments (TB/hour) now require a new approach to imaging: we cannot blindly image large samples with uniformly high spatial and temporal resolution. We propose smart microscopy as a solution, in which illumination and detection are adaptively adjusted to obtain meaningful information without any a priori knowledge about the sample. At the same time, we are developing a compact and robust platform for a modular microscope that we want to share for free with the biological community to facilitate collaborations.