YouTube video by Leica Microsystems, May, 2014
Yasushi Okada, team leader at Riken Quantitative Biology Center in Osaka, Japan, investigates vesicular transport mechanisms in neuronal cells. As the size of transported vesicles is below 100 nm and the diameter of microtubules is about 25 nm, he uses super-resolution techniques to study the sophisticated machinery of neuronal transport. STED technology already helped him to understand how vesicles can move between microtubules although the interval between several microtubules is smaller than the diameter of the vesicles. "With super-resolution light imaging we can see that the microtubules move away, so that the vesicles go between the microtubules. So that's a new insight." For his studies he uses all available super-resolution strategies like structured illumination, GSDIM and STED. "But for live imaging, especially at a resolution below 100 nm, STED is the only choice." Okada has to confess that seeing his first super-resolution image, he was not so impressed. He thinks he had been too expecting. But coming back to his conventional confocal microscope afterwards he thought something was wrong with the image quality. Only then he realized how good super-resolution was. The biggest challenge of super-resolution Okada sees in the problem of photodamage and in finding a good compromise between the physiology of the cell and the signal-to-noise ratio. He acts on the assumption that – within a couple of years – super-resolution will be the must for all cell biologists. Collaboration with Leica Microsystems Okada always felt like fun and he praises Leica's flexibility and its openness to the needs and requests of the scientists.