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Cryo-fixation and associated developments in transmission electron microscopy: a cool future for nematology

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At present, the importance of sample preparation equipment for electron microscopy represents the driving force behind major breakthroughs in microscopy and cell biology. In this paper we present an introduction to the most commonly used cryo-fixation techniques, with special attention paid towards high-pressure freezing followed by freeze substitution. Techniques associated with cryo-fixation, such as immunolocalisation, cryo-sectioning, and correlative light and electron microscopy, are also highlighted. For studies that do not require high resolution, high quality results, or the immediate arrest of certain processes, conventional methods will provide answers to many questions. For some applications, such as immunocytochemistry, three-dimensional reconstruction of serial sections or electron tomography, improved preservation of the ultrastructure is required. This review of nematode cryo-fixation highlights that cryo-fixation not only results in a superior preservation of fine structural details, but also underlines the fact that some observations based on results solely obtained through conventional fixation approaches were either incorrect, or otherwise had severe limitations. Although the use of cryo-fixation has hitherto been largely restricted to model organisms, the advantages of cryo-fixation are sufficiently self-evident that we must conclude that the cryo-fixation method is highly likely to become the standard for nematode fixation in the near future.

Affiliations: 1: 1Nematology Research Unit, Department of Biology, Ghent University, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, 9000 Ghent, Belgium; 2: 2Pteridology Research Group, Department of Biology, Ghent University, K.L. Ledeganckstraat 35, 9000 Ghent, Belgium


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