Three-Dimensional Visualisation and Quantification of Lipids in Microalgae Using Confocal Laser Scanning Microscopy

  • Narin Chansawang
  • Boguslaw Obara
  • Richard J. Geider
  • Pierre Philippe LaissueEmail author
Part of the Springer Protocols Handbooks book series (SPH)


Fluorescence microscopy and digital imaging allow the selective visualisation and quantification of cellular components and can convey research findings in an appealing and intuitive way. These techniques are regularly used in biomedical research laboratories, but have less widespread application in marine sciences. We present here an approach to label and volumetrically quantify neutral lipids, chloroplasts, DNA and cell volumes in microalgae. Using fluorescence microscopy techniques on “turn-key” systems commonly available to environmental research labs, imaging facilities or accessible groups in other disciplines ensure that this approach can be widely reproduced.


Autofluorescence Chlorophyll Fluorescence microscopy Image processing Lipids Localisation Microalgae Nile red Quantification Volumetry 



Two dimensional


Three dimensional




Look-up table


Numerical aperture


Photosynthetic photon flux density


Room temperature


Violet corrected



N. C. acknowledges support from the Royal Thai Government for sponsoring her PhD research. R. J. G. and P. P. L. acknowledge NERC for supporting algal ecophysiology research and environmental fluorescence microscopy, respectively.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Narin Chansawang
    • 1
  • Boguslaw Obara
    • 2
  • Richard J. Geider
    • 1
  • Pierre Philippe Laissue
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of EssexColchesterUK
  2. 2.School of Engineering and Computing SciencesDurham UniversityDurhamUK

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