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Scientists look at flower cells in 3D without wrecking them

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Plants are delicate things, which makes them a pain to study under an electron microscope -- you'll probably damage the very cells you're trying to look at. You'll get a much better look if the University of Florida's new imaging technique catches on, though. Their approach leans on both a compound fluorescence light microscope and a camera to capture several layers of cells, creating a detailed 3D snapshot of the cellular structure of something as fragile as a flower petal. The resulting pictures may not be shocking (surprise: there are lots of globs), but they should be a big deal for biologists. Researchers would have a better sense of how animal and plant tissues work when they're untouched by humans, which could go a long way toward fighting diseases and learning about new species.

[Image credit: Jacob B. Landis]

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