Surface imaging microscopy, an automated method for visualizing whole embryo samples in three dimensions at high resolution

Andrew J. Ewald, Helen Mcbride, Mark Reddington, Scott E. Fraser, Russell Kerschmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

78 Scopus citations


Modern biology is faced with the challenge of understanding the specification, generation, and maintenance of structures ranging from cells and tissues to organs and organisms. By acquiring images directly from the block face of an embedded sample, surface imaging microscopy (SIM) generates high-resolution volumetric images of biological specimens across all of these scales. Surface imaging microscopy expands our range of imaging tools by generating three-dimensional reconstructions of embryo samples at high resolution and high contrast. SIM image quality is not limited by depth or the optical properties of overlying tissue, and intrinsic or extrinsic alignment markers are not required for volume reconstruction. These volumes are highly isotropic, enabling them to be virtually sectioned in any direction without loss of image quality. Surface imaging microscopy provided a more accurate three-dimensional representation of a chick embryo than confocal microscopy of the same sample. SIM offers excellent imaging of embryos from three major vertebrate systems in developmental biology: mouse, chicken, and frog. Immediate applications of this technology are in visualizing and understanding complex morphogenetic events and in making detailed comparisons between normal and genetically modified embryos.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)369-375
Number of pages7
JournalDevelopmental Dynamics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Nov 1 2002
Externally publishedYes


  • Anatomy
  • Chicken
  • Frog
  • Imaging
  • Morphogenesis
  • Mouse
  • Three-dimensional reconstruction
  • Visualization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology


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