A new microscope called the Multi-View SPIM, or MuVi-SPIM for short, is allowing scientists to take unprecedented images of rapid biological processes, at a level of detail we've never seen before. And to show off the power of this new microscope, the developers have released an incredible time-lapse video of a fruit fly embryo undergoing development.

To capture this video, the new microscope shines a thin sheet of light on the embryo, illuminating one layer of the sample at a time, to obtain an image of the whole sample with minimal light-induced damage. MuVi-SPIM builds upon the Selective-Plane Illumination Microscopy (SPIM) technology developed at EMBL a few years ago. But unlike SPIM, the new microscope takes four full images from different angles, eliminating the need to rotate the sample. This results in faster imaging and the ability to merge the four images into a single high-quality three-dimensional image - something that's never been done before.

Astonishing Time-Lapse Video of a Fruit Fly Embryo DevelopingS

MuVi-SPIM is referred to as a three-dimensional microscope, but it has the capacity to take images from four different angles. It was developed by Lars Hufnagel and his team at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany.

As for the video itself, it shows a two-and-a-half hour old fruit fly embryo developing over the course of a 20-hour period of time. Cells on the embryo's belly can be seen diving in to form a ventral furrow. Other cells then move around the embryo's rear end to its back (inset), in a process called convergent extension. Later, when an opening appears in the embryo's back (inset), the surrounding cells can be seen closing the gap in a process known as dorsal closure.

The new microscope can capture high-quality three-dimensional images in a few seconds and then be ready to repeat the process soon afterwards. The different images that make up the video are taken in such rapid succession that very little changes in the embryo from one frame to the next. As a result, scientists know the location of each cell, including the structures inside cells, so that it can be tracked throughout the video.

Via. Video via EBML YouTube Channel. Body image via EMBL/U.Krzic.