A new high-performance microscopy system funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) will be in operation at the Institute of Zoology at the University of Heidelberg. The biologist Prof. Dr. Jochen Wittbrodt and his team will use the system to investigate central development stages in animals, in particular embryonic development processes that lead to the formation of a complete fish.
The correct proliferation and specialisation of cells and their migration to their final destinations are crucial steps in embryonic development. These processes do not only play a key role in fish, but represent basic developmental processes that are also of great importance in humans. The microscopic monitoring of cells in the developing fish embryo is an important way of studying the processes involved. Professor Wittbrodt is the head of the Department of Molecular Developmental Biology/Animal Physiology at the Institute of Zoology and is a member of the Interdisciplinary Centre of Neurosciences and of the “Cellular Networks” excellence cluster at the University of Heidelberg.The new microscopy system, a laser scanning confocal microscope manufactured by Leica Microsystems, complements the institute’s existing equipment; a digital laser microscope that was jointly developed by Prof. Wittbrodt and the biophysicist Dr. Ernst Stelzer from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. The new microscope, which allows the detailed monitoring of cell behaviour at the highest possible spatial and temporal resolution, was financed by the German Research Foundation (DFG) and the Baden-Württemberg government. Its predecessor was established way back in 1987 in the building of the Institute of Zoology with DFG funds and further developed by scientists from Heidelberg to enable the study of biological issues.