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Several aspects of plant development, such as lateral root morphogenesis, occur on time spans of several days. To study underlying cellular and subcellular processes, high resolution time-lapse microscopy strategies that preserve physiological conditions are required. Plant tissues must have adequate nutrient and water supply with sustained gaseous exchange but, when submerged and immobilized under a coverslip, they are particularly susceptible to anoxia. One strategy that has been successfully employed is the use of a perfusion system to maintain a constant supply of oxygen and nutrients. However, such arrangements can be complicated, cumbersome, and require specialized equipment. Presented here is an alternative strategy for a simple imaging system using perfluorodecalin as an immersion medium. This system is easy to set up, requires minimal equipment, and is easily mounted on a microscope stage, allowing several imaging chambers to be set up and imaged in parallel. In this system, lateral root growth rates are indistinguishable from growth rates under standard conditions on agar plates for the first two days, and lateral root growth continues at reduced rates for at least another day. Plant tissues are supplied with nutrients via an agar slab that can be used also to administer a range of pharmacological compounds. The system was established to monitor lateral root development but is readily adaptable to image other plant organs such as hypocotyls and primary roots.

Original publication




Journal article


J Vis Exp

Publication Date



Arabidopsis, Hypocotyl, Microscopy, Confocal, Plant Roots