Zhengyi Yang, Katy L. Cole, Yongqiang Qiu, Ildikó M. L. Somorjai, Philip Wijesinghe, Jonathan Nylk, Sandy Cochran, Gabriel C. Spalding, David A. Lyons, and Kishan Dholakia

Nature Communications 10, 669 (2019)

doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-08514-5

Contactless sample confinement would enable a whole host of new studies in developmental biology and neuroscience, in particular, when combined with long-term, wide-field optical imaging. To achieve this goal, we demonstrate a contactless acoustic gradient force trap for sample confinement in light sheet microscopy. Our approach allows the integration of real-time environmentally controlled experiments with wide-field low photo-toxic imaging, which we demonstrate on a variety of marine animal embryos and larvae. To illustrate the key advantages of our approach, we provide quantitative data for the dynamic response of the heartbeat of zebrafish larvae to verapamil and norepinephrine, which are known to affect cardiovascular function. Optical flow analysis allows us to explore the cardiac cycle of the zebrafish and determine the changes in contractile volume within the heart. Overcoming the restrictions of sample immobilisation and mounting can open up a broad range of studies, with real-time drug-based assays and biomechanical analyses.