In the past years we have invested significantly in technology and infrastructure of the department. Special emphasis was on (electron) microscopy, image processing and analysis. In addition we have invested in instrumentation for quantitative analyses of cellular processes. Our central facilities, such as cell culture laboratories and climate chambers, all comply with S2-safety standards. The IT-infrastructure has been designed to cope with the steadily increasing amount of data from modern high-throughput technology. Most of our instrumentation is available also for use by others. That’s why we provide a short list of key-equipment here:
We have recently purchased electron microscopes (electron tomography, high resolution SEM, high-pressure freezing, freeze substitution, ultramicrotome etc.). A custom-built TILL Photonics iMIC is used for advanced fluorescence applications (FRAP, SI, FLIM ...). For highspeed-fluorescence microscopy of living cells we have adopted a Leica-platform. This allows long-term observation with highest resolution. Susanne Fenz is just building a single-molecule fluorescence microscope. Other fluorescence microscopes, incl. CSLM & high-resolution stereo, are available. High-end cameras (PCO.edge, PCO 1600 & QE, Phantom etc.) allow high-speed and high-resolution analyses. Image processing is done with Huygens, AMIRA, IMARIS and custom-written software.
The entire IT-structure was cleverly designed by Dr. Norbert Wilken. He died from cancer in summer 2011. Today we use an integrated network of some 50 computers (mainly Mac) and several high-end servers. About 70 Tb of easily upgradable and safe storage are located at the Rechenzentrum and connected via fast fiber-optics. A system of databases, incl. a bona fide web shop and a laboratory management system have been established by Patrick Haag.
For quantitative Western (and Northern) analyses a LI-COR Odyssey infrared imaging system is used. Protein purification and characterization is mainly done with the DIONEX 3000 HPLC system and two ÄKTAprime FPLC. Membrane proteins are analyzed in artifical lipid bilayers produced with an automated KIBRON MTX Langmuir-Blodgett trough. Protein diffusion measurements are done by FRAP and SPT.
All aspects of reverse and forward genetics methods are established. RNAi and morpholino approaches are used with various eukaryotic model systems. Transgenic cells and organisms are generated using different techniques (micromanipulation, electroporation, lipofection etc.). For large-scale analyses we use LONZA 96-well nucleofector and a TECAN Infinite multimode reader. For chromatin analyses cells are treated with a bioruptor plus.
For growth of a various cell lines we have 3 fully equipped containment laboratories that all comply with S2-safety standards. Besides regular CO2-incubators, multi-gas incubators allow O2-control and special devices are used for cultivation of cells that need continuous agitation. 3D-cell and tissue cultures have een established. Three climate chambers allow large-scale cultivation of cells and organisms at temperatures ranging from 10°C to 37°C. Our storage systems include a -150° ultra-cold freezer and an automated Taylor-Wharton LABS 20-K liquid nitrogen system.
High-end cell sorters are available for use e.g. at the Microbiology department. We have purchased a BD FACSCalibur for analytical cytometry. The instrument is fully equipped and run by experts from the Janzen group. Besides quantitative cell cycle analyses, endocytosis and cargo recycling are being measured with the instrument. In addition, we are using the versatile BD Accuri system for teaching purposes.
We have access to the Biocenter?s central animal facility. Several mouse lines are fostered mainly by the Alsheimer and Benavente groups. Our department also maintains Xenopus frogs and we will start with zebrafish shortly. Recently, the Alsheimer group has established transgenic hydra cultivation. For teaching purposes we raise C. elegans, Dictyostelium, Chlamydomonas, Drosophila and even the unbelievably cool tardigrades. Our two cute Axoltl are actually pretty aggressive lab pets.
We are the only German laboratory that keeps the infamous tsetse fly. We raise the flies in a humidified S2 containment laboratory. The journey of trypanosomes through their insect vector is still a scientific black box. We have started to analyse some specific aspects, especially, the exact mode of motility of various tsetse fly stages.
In the course of reconstruction of our laboratories we decided to transform two dark stockrooms into a sunny teaching laboratory. The lab is fully equipped 6 advanced students and contains all instrumentation for ambitious experiments, including FPLC and fluorescence microscopes. Fast iMacs are available. Our teaching laboratory has become a big success and it is occupied around the year. Elina Krüger is the teaching technician who guides the student?s first steps towards independent research.