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MIT Livestreams Images of Living Cells to Dublin with Document Camera

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has partnered with The Grafting Parlour, a collaborative research project involving artists and scientists, to display living cells via streaming video to an event in Dublin, Ireland.

Using the AVerVision CP300 document camera from AVerMedia connected to a microscope in the MIT Biological Engineering Lab, students and faculty are capturing live images of the changing green fluorescent protein (GFP) bacteria. Those images are being broadcast through the AVerVision software and a third-party video streaming service for live viewing at Lightwave, an event at Trinity College that brings together scientists, designers, and artists for collaborative experimentation.

"A microscope allows us to see living cells grow and divide. However other important changes occur inside cells during the cell cycle, changes that are harder to see," said Natalie Kuldell, instructor of biological engineering, who is facilitating the creative collaboration with her students. "For instance, before cells divide they must make a copy of their DNA to pass onto the daughter cell. To better visualize the different cell cycle stages, we are fluorescently tagging proteins that are uniquely active during a single stage. Thus, cells would appear green or blue while they are growing (the G1 and G2 stages), yellow while they are copying their DNA (the S stage), and red when they are dividing (the M stage). The colorful yeast can then be an interactive platform for an artistic exhibit since a small protein called alpha factor could be applied to the colorful array of cells by the viewer of the exhibit, synchronizing the cells to which it's applied and leaving a single color trace behind."

With the ability to connect the CP300 to the MIT microscope, viewers both in the lab and in Dublin can watch and analyze the live bacteria in real time. "The CP300 was the only instrument that could broadcast the bacteria live, meeting both the technical requirements for digitalization and those for microscopy," said Lucy Hg, an artist with The Grafting Parlour and The League of Imaginary Scientists. "The additional support and training from AVerMedia have been essential to our work in the lab and to the display of live science."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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