Amoeba’s dance observed in 3D and stain-free

Discover Amoeba cells as never before in 3D and without any stain with Nanolive’s 3D Cell Explorer.

Amoeba are tiny, one-celled protozoa found in freshwater and salt water, in soil, and as animal parasites in animals. They are composed of cytoplasm (cellular fluid) divided into two parts: a thin, clear, gel-like outer layer that acts as a membrane (ectoplasm); and an inner, more watery grainy mass (endoplasm) containing organelles. Interestingly amoebas can have more than one nucleus, depending on the species.

Did you know that the word amoeba in Greek means “to change”? This is due to the fact that these cells moves by continuously changing their body shape, forming extensions called pseudopods into which the body then flows. The pseudopods also are used to surround and capture food—mainly bacteria, algae, and other protozoa—from the surrounding water. An opening in the membrane allows the food particles, to get inside the cell, where they are enclosed in food vacuoles. There the food is digested by enzymes and absorbed into the cell. The food vacuoles then disappear. 

Other interesting fact about amoeba is that water from the surrounding environment continuously flows inside amoeba cells by osmosis. When too much water accumulates in the cell, the excess is enclosed in a contractile vacuole and squirted back out through the cell membrane. 

Find out these and other facts about these special cells in our spectacular video: displayed in the first part of the video are migrating amoeba cells at their natural speed, (one 3D image every 1.7 seconds). At time point 00:31 we show amoeba cells hunting (successfully) bacteria. Finally, in a last image, we highlight the 3D reconstruction of the food vacuoles filled with bacteria.

On the left panel is represented the Refractive Index (RI) map in 2D. On the right panel, you have the 3D Visualization as obtained with our software STEVE. The central the D-Stain panel show how the different cell compartment are digitally stained based on their specific RI.

For the kind permission to reproduce the images and videos on this blog post we thank Prof. Pierre Cosson (Department of Cell Physiology and Metabolism, University of Geneva Medical School) and Dr. Samuel Lord from (Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology, HHMI, University of California, San Francisco).