Biophysical Reviews

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 121–135 | Cite as

Multi-dimensional correlative imaging of subcellular events: combining the strengths of light and electron microscopy

  • Yingying Su
  • Marko Nykanen
  • Kristina A. Jahn
  • Renee Whan
  • Laurence Cantrill
  • Lilian L. Soon
  • Kyle R. Ratinac
  • Filip Braet


To genuinely understand how complex biological structures function, we must integrate knowledge of their dynamic behavior and of their molecular machinery. The combined use of light or laser microscopy and electron microscopy has become increasingly important to our understanding of the structure and function of cells and tissues at the molecular level. Such a combination of two or more different microscopy techniques, preferably with different spatial- and temporal-resolution limits, is often referred to as ‘correlative microscopy’. Correlative imaging allows researchers to gain additional novel structure–function information, and such information provides a greater degree of confidence about the structures of interest because observations from one method can be compared to those from the other method(s). This is the strength of correlative (or ‘combined’) microscopy, especially when it is combined with combinatorial or non-combinatorial labeling approaches. In this topical review, we provide a brief historical perspective of correlative microscopy and an in-depth overview of correlative sample-preparation and imaging methods presently available, including future perspectives on the trend towards integrative microscopy and microanalysis.


Correlative morphomics Combinatorial labeling Combined microscopy Live-cell imaging Integrated microscopy Electron tomography 



The authors acknowledge the facilities, as well as technical and administrative assistance from staff, of the AMMRF at the Australian Centre for Microscopy & Microanalysis of the University of Sydney, and are particularly grateful to Ellie Kable and Deborah Barton. We also thank the Australian Research Council (ARC) for funding some of the research reported herein through ‘Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities’- (LE0775598, LE0883030 & LE100100010) and ‘Discovery Project’ grants (DP0881012), as well as support from the ARC/NHMRC FABLS Research Network (RN0460002).


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Copyright information

© International Union for Pure and Applied Biophysics (IUPAB) and Springer 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Yingying Su
    • 1
  • Marko Nykanen
    • 2
  • Kristina A. Jahn
    • 1
  • Renee Whan
    • 1
  • Laurence Cantrill
    • 2
  • Lilian L. Soon
    • 1
  • Kyle R. Ratinac
    • 1
  • Filip Braet
    • 1
  1. 1.Australian Centre for Microscopy and MicroanalysisThe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  2. 2.Kids Research Institute, Children’s Hospital WestmeadWestmeadAustralia

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