The top portion of the campus entrance gate showing IISER Pune logo

A computational tool to track single molecules through DIC microscopy

Posted on
Share this article

In a paper in the Biophysical Journal, Dr. Chaitanya Athale’s group described an automated programme to track intracellular granules while viewing the molecules under a differential interference contrast (DIC) microscope. This image-analysis programme will help researchers observe, follow, and study single molecules in a quantitative, yet non-invasive, manner.

A DIC microscope enhances contrast and is ideal to visualise transparent specimen which are label-free, which means the sample undergoes minimal perturbation and is close to its native state. Considering that single-particle tracking tools specific to DIC microscopy are lacking, the team developed a computational tool for DIC object detection and tracking with a GUI (graphic user interface) and coined this tool as DICOT (DIC Object Tracking).


A view of the graphic user interface of DICOT (Image source: Dr. Chaitanya Athale; Biophys. J. 120(3): 393-401) 


The team has demonstrated the utility of DICOT in the one-celled embryos of Caenorhabditis elegans, a nematode and a popular model organism for biological studies.Here, through DICOT, the team tracked yolk granules and studyied their oscillatory dynamics. Further, they validated the method by studying the mobility of micron-sized beads in glycerol solution and thereby estimating the viscosity of the glycerol solution. Based on this, the authors suggest that this new computational tool could potentially be useful to study the mobility of particles inside the cells and for studies involving rheometry.

This work is supported by a BigData grant from the Department of Biotechnology, Government of India.


Article Citation:

Anushree R. Chaphalkar, Yash K. Jawale, Dhruv Khatri, Chaitanya A. Athale, 2021, Quantifying intracellular particle flows by DIC Object Tracking. Biophysical Journal


- With inputs from Dr. Chaitanya Athale