It’s that time of year to get into the holiday spirit, prepare for some time at home, and relax after a strange and stressful year. Even the cells in our Picture of the Week are getting into the holiday spirit, forming this colourful Christmas tree.
Martin Bergert, Laboratory Officer in the Diz-Muñoz Group, encouraged these human epidermoid carcinoma cells to get into the holiday spirit by using a technique called micropatterning, forcing cells to acquire a certain shape. Originally, he tested two cell lines and their feasibility to be micropatterned. For most experiments in the lab, cells are shaped into tiny circles of 20 µm diameter, so that single cells remain round and don’t spread out. During this particular day of patterning, Bergert found his holiday spirit and decided that the cells could do so too, creating these cellular Christmas trees.
The cells were originally fixed and stained with Phalloidin-TRITC (red), which stains filamentous actin in the cells, and Hoechst (blue), which stains the nuclei of the cells. However, Bergert has false-coloured the resulting image to create this yellow and purple tree.
Credit: Martin Bergert/EMBL
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It’s almost a year since the coronavirus outbreak was declared a pandemic, affecting all our lives. While the virus continues its grip on the world, scientists are understanding it better and better, increasing our knowledge about it and opening up new ways to fight it.