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Visualisation of microalgal lipid bodies through electron microscopy
Verwee, E.; van de Walle, D.; De Bruyne, M.; Mienis, E.; Sekulic, M.; Chaerle, P.; Vyverman, W.; Foubert, I.; Dewettinck, K. (2024). Visualisation of microalgal lipid bodies through electron microscopy. J. Microsc. 293(2): 118-131.
In: Journal of Microscopy. Blackwell: Oxford. ISSN 0022-2720; e-ISSN 1365-2818, more
Peer reviewed article  

Available in  Authors 

    Nannochloropsis oculata (Droop) D.J.Hibberd, 1981 [WoRMS]; Phaeodactylum tricornutum Bohlin, 1897 [WoRMS]
Author keywords
    cryo-planing; electron microscopy; freeze-fracturing; lipid bodies; Nannochloropsis oculata; Phaeodactylum tricornutum

Authors  Top 
  • Verwee, E., more
  • van de Walle, D., more
  • De Bruyne, M., more


    In this study, transmission electron microscopy (TEM) and cryo-scanning electron microscopy (cryo-SEM) were evaluated for their ability to detect lipid bodies in microalgae. To do so, Phaeodactylum tricornutum and Nannochloropsis oculata cells were harvested in both the mid-exponential and early stationary growth phase. Two different cryo-SEM cutting methods were compared: cryo-planing and freeze-fracturing. The results showed that, despite the longer preparation time, TEM visualisation preceded by cryo-immobilisation allows a clear detection of lipid bodies and is preferable to cryo-SEM. Using freeze-fracturing, lipid bodies were rarely detected. This was only feasible if crystalline layers in the internal structure, most likely related to sterol esters or di-saturated triacylglycerols, were revealed. Furthermore, lipid bodies could not be detected using cryo-planing. Cryo-SEM is also not the preferred technique to recognise other organelles besides lipid bodies, yet it did reveal chloroplasts in both species and filament-containing organelles in cryo-planed Nannochloropsis oculata samples.

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