Studying cell microstructures and their behaviors under living conditions has been a challenging subject in microbiology. In this work, in situ liquid chamber TEM was used to study structures of Escherichia coli cells in aqueous solutions at a nanometer-scale resolution. Most of the cells remained intact under electron beam irradiation, and nanoscale structures were observed during the TEM imaging. The analysis revealed structures of pili surrounding the E. coli cells; the movements of the pili in the liquid were also observed during the in situ tests. This technology also allowed the observation of features of the nucleoid in the E. coli cells. Overall, in situ TEM can be applied as a valuable tool to study real-time microscopic structures and processes in microbial cells residing in native aqueous solutions.
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© 2015 Yibing Wang et al.