Our knowledge of the structure of microbial cells just keeps getting better as the resolution of imaging techniques continues to increase. A key player in this rapidly evolving technological field is cryo-electron tomography (cryoET) which, aided by powerful computational tools, allows for the generation of three-dimensional images of whole microbial cells. And when it comes to subcellular organelles, the resolution is nearly at the level of individual atoms. It is no surprise that Christoph could barely stay put on his seat when he first saw a 3D rendering of magnetosomes, as he described in a prior post. And in that post, Christoph introduced STC readers to a remarkable compendium of cryoET images of microbial cells: "The Atlas of Bacterial and Archaeal Cell Structure" by Catherine Oikonomou and Grant Jensen. Therein, the authors present the images acquired by numerous investigators, accompanied by explanatory text, and even an audible track. In my opinion, this open access digital textbook should be a companion to every student of microbiology. Not only will they acquaint themselves with diverse cellular features, but they'll also get a chance to marvel at the "real data."
By its very nature, revised and expanded versions of this textbook can be generated relatively often. The most recent version, released last month, includes major additions that make the text particularly useful for teaching. These include animated videos illustrating diverse imaging methods, such as light microscopy, fluorescence microscopy, scanning EM, transmission EM, cryo-EM, cryo-ET, and X-ray crystallography as well as a downloadable review packet. I wholeheartedly recommend this wonderful and ever-improving resource to anyone interested in diving into and teaching about bacterial and archaeal cell structure through the window of cryoET!
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