Resolving biofilm topography by native scanning electron microscopy
Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) is a powerful tool for structural analysis, but it requires biological samples to undergo lengthy, chemically-complex multi-step preparation procedures, arguably altering some features in the sample. Here we report an ultra-rapid and chemical-free technique for visualizing bacterial biofilms at their native state. Our technique minimizes the time interval from culture to imaging to approximately 20 min, while producing high-resolution images that enable the detection of a variety of topographic features such as bacterial chains, and resolving cells from matrix. We analyzed images obtained from Bacillus subtilis biofilms, demonstrate the usefulness of this technique for multiple types of image analysis, and discuss its potential to be improved and adapted to other types of biological samples.
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