Zebrafish brainbow bioscape

This beautiful image of the brain of a 5-day-old zebrafish larva, which was created by Albert Pan of Harvard University, has just won 4th place in the 2008 Olympus BioScapes Digital Imaging competition.

It was created using the Brainbow technique, a genetic method for labelling neurons, with which individual cells can be made to express a random combination of fluorescent proteins. An image of a mouse brainstem labelled using the same method was awarded 1st prize in last year’s competition.

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The 100 colours of the Brainbow

Researchers from Harvard University have developed a remarkable genetic technique that enabled them to visualize complete neuronal circuits in unprecedented detail, by using multiple distinct colours to label individual neurons.

The technique, called Brainbow, works in much the same way as a television uses the three primary colours to generate all the colour hues. With multiple combinations of up to four differently coloured fluorescent proteins, a palette of approximately 100 labels has been produced.  Continue reading