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Molecular and Cellular Imaging

Investigating biological systems across multiple spatial and temporal scales

The Molecular and Cellular Imaging Group focuses on the characterization, integration, and understanding of natural and synthetic systems across multiple spatial and temporal scales. A continuing emphasis is to define how natural systems are organized at the molecular scale and understand how this organization contributes to complex behavior and emergent biological function.

Research efforts focus on technology development and application with specific interests in biological and chemical imaging, including the development of engineered habitats to facilitate imaging and sample collection, and the advancement of synthetic and molecular biology tools to understand cellular and molecular systems. Imaging projects are aimed at investigating organization and function in multispecies systems within complex communities and within host and host mimetic environments. Nanotechnology projects are centered on analyzing and mimicking the physical and chemical characteristics of biological systems, copying their natural microenvironment, and developing biocompatible patterning techniques. Molecular and synthetic biology efforts are focused on microbial strain development and advance the use of cell-free systems for the preparation of proteins and metabolites and for the definition of metabolic networks.

Primarily, these technology advancement efforts are focused on understanding the organization and behavior of plant and microbial systems, with an emphasis on defining the chemical environment and molecular mechanisms that promote productive interfaces between plants and bacteria. The group maintains comprehensive resources in molecular and synthetic biology, mammalian cell culture, and in molecular and cellular imaging. The team leverages the advanced fabrication and characterization capabilities of ORNL’s Center for Nanophase Materials Sciences.