Feature Of The Week 03/05/2017: In Vivo Imaging of Coral Tissue and Skeleton with Optical Coherence Tomography
Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a non-invasive three-dimensional imaging technique with micrometer resolution allowing microstructural characterization of tissues in vivo and in real time. We present the first application of OCT for in vivo imaging of tissue and skeleton structure of intact living corals spanning a variety of morphologies and tissue thickness. OCT visualized different coral tissue layers (e.g. endoderm vs ectoderm), special structures such as mesenterial filaments and skeletal cavities, as well as mucus release from living corals. We also developed a new approach for non-invasive imaging and quantification of chromatophores containing green fluorescent protein (GFP)-like host pigment granules in coral tissue. The chromatophore system is hyper-reflective and can thus be imaged with good optical contrast in OCT, enabling quantification of chromatophore size, distribution and abundance. Because of its rapid imaging speed, OCT can also be used to quantify coral tissue movement showing that maximal linear contraction velocity was ~120 μm per second upon high light stimulation. Based on OCT imaging of tissue expansion and contraction, we made first estimates of dynamic changes in the coral tissue surface area, which varied by a factor of 2 between the contracted and expanded state of the coral Pocillopora damicornis. We conclude that OCT is an excellent novel tool for in vivo tomographic imaging of corals that can reveal tissue and skeleton organization as well as quantify dynamic changes in tissue structure and coral surface area non-invasively and at high spatio-temporal resolution.
For more information see recent Articles. Courtesy Michael Kühl and Daniel Wangpraseurt from University of Copenhagen.