Label Free Microtubule Microscopy

January5

The exciting work of Mohammed Mahamdeh and Joe Howard (J.Microsc. https://doi.org/10.1111/jmi.12744) prompted me in the December break from teaching in 2018 to try and reproduce it, using the Nikon TiE inverted epifluorescence microscopy in the lab. With the able presence of a talented Masters student Yash Jawale (now PhD student in the Netherlands), we attempted to uncover its secret levers of light attentuation. After frustrating months, we had a visitor from France, Dr. Kheya Sengupta from CINAM Marseille. As an expert on IRM and RICM (a related method) she helped us achieve it- label free microscopy of the 30 nm wide single MT filaments in (IRM)! And since then we have been toying with it, getting better images with passing days. Now if only the remaining experiments would work!

Field microscope

November14

Focussing mechanism for a cellphone microscope

After collecting a small personal museum of microscopes (I don’t have a very big house, so there are limits to it), it was thrilling to complete a project with Yash (BS-MS 2018) and Prof. Rapol in Physics @iiserpune, where we added a 3D printed mechanism for focus adjustment for a portable ball lens microscope. The help we got from Dr. Manu Prakash at Stanford to get us started needs to be mentioned. His energy in spreading portable microscopy in parts of LDCs (less developed country) like India has got a lot of people to get “back to the basics”. In our work we got some help in terms of samples from the lab of Dr. Krishanpal Karmodiya, who works with Plasmodium infected cells for understanding the genomics of malaria. Kudos to the team and looking forward to more developments.

The 3D files of the device we have described in our paper are Open Source and available to download [Github link]. Anybody with access to a 3D printer should in principle be able to make this.

Reference:

Yash Jawale, Umakant Rapol and Chaitanya A. Athale (2018) Open Source 3D printed focussing mechanism (3DPFM) for cellphone based cellular microscopy. 12-Nov-2018 J. Microsc.  https://doi.org/10.1111/jmi.12765

Post-publication review and PLOS’ experiment with the Synthetic Biology Collection

October28

An inducible luxI system (iptg) to produce the AHL above a threshold Pt. Kadam et al. (2016)

The iGEM 2015 synthetic biology contest was an important one for us. It marked our first attempt at putting together a project from IISER Pune. But beyond the novelty for us, many things were different this time around (#igem2015). First off, no preliminary or elimination rounds.

Secondly, we (yes, some self-backpatting here) organized an India Meetup in the run-up to the Jamboree. And third, and interestingly, the journal PLOS One (Public Library of Science) decided to use this as an opportunity to launch the PLOS iGEM collection, as a sort of meta-list, connected to iGEM. They decided to also go the radical way- with post-publication review. Time will tell how this latter experiment works out. And naturally our team’s efforts are there. With a lot of hard work put in by Snehal Kadam well after the contest and some griding-the-article together by mining long-forgotten (1 year ago!) protocol books, and some frantic emailing and interviewing, we managed to pull it off. You can read it here “Mycobacterium Revelio: Characterizing and Modeling Genetic Circuit Components towards a Bacterial Detection Tool”. The first 10 authors are BS-MS undergraduate students. Manasi and Neha are PhD students.