Universiteit Leiden

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NGL lezing: Ariane Briegel

15 maart 2018
Lezingen Natuurwetenschappelijk Gezelschap Leiden
Huygens Laboratorium
Niels Bohrweg 2
2333 CA Leiden

Het Natuurwetenschappelijk Gezelschap Leiden organiseert lezingen voor iedereen met interesse in de natuurwetenschappen.

This lecture will be in English.

Freezing bacteria super fast to gain a true-to-nature image of the internal and external structure. Ariane Briegel Professor of Ultrastructural Biology came to Leiden specially to carry out this research. Leiden University is one of the few institutes in the world to have the necessary equipment.

Briegel works mainly with highly advanced cryo-electron tomography, to image bacteria that are normally too small to see. 'We freeze the bacteria super fast - a true flash-freeze - so that the specimen is contained in perfectly clear ice.’ It's so fast that the water in the cell has no time to crystallise. 'The bacteria remains completely intact and there are no defects in the image.'

The specimen is then placed under an advanced electron microscope, where it is spun round. The resulting 2D recordings are combined to create a 3D image, comparable to hospital CT-scanners. The combination of these techniques offers a completely new vision of the world of microbes. ‘Cryo-electron tomography is the first technique for looking at bacteria in their natural state, exactly how they normally look.' This technique is necessary to answer for example how bacteria move, and which signals trigger that movement. It is a small step from studying bacterial movement to prevention of infections, and their spreading.