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Light microscopy applications in systems biology: opportunities and challenges

Paul Michel Aloyse Antony1*, Christophe Trefois1, Aleksandar Stojanovic2, Aidos Sagatovich Baumuratov1 and Karol Kozak34

Author Affiliations

1 Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB), University of Luxembourg, Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg

2 Interdisciplinary Centre for Security, Reliability and Trust (SnT), University of Luxembourg, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

3 Light Microscopy Centre (LMSC), Institute for Biochemistry, ETH Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland

4 Medical Faculty, Technical University Dresden, Dresden, Germany

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Cell Communication and Signaling 2013, 11:24  doi:10.1186/1478-811X-11-24

Published: 11 April 2013


Biological systems present multiple scales of complexity, ranging from molecules to entire populations. Light microscopy is one of the least invasive techniques used to access information from various biological scales in living cells. The combination of molecular biology and imaging provides a bottom-up tool for direct insight into how molecular processes work on a cellular scale. However, imaging can also be used as a top-down approach to study the behavior of a system without detailed prior knowledge about its underlying molecular mechanisms. In this review, we highlight the recent developments on microscopy-based systems analyses and discuss the complementary opportunities and different challenges with high-content screening and high-throughput imaging. Furthermore, we provide a comprehensive overview of the available platforms that can be used for image analysis, which enable community-driven efforts in the development of image-based systems biology.

Microscopy; Systems biology; Image analysis; Segmentation; Features; Machine learning