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Research Abstracts Online
January 2008 - March 2009

University of Minnesota Twin Cities
College of Biological Sciences and Medical School
Department of Genetics, Cell Biology, and Development

PI: Stuart F. Goldstein

Electron Cryotomography of the Spirochete Borelia burgdorferi

Spirochetes are a group of bacteria that swim through their environment using a set of internal rotating structures. This researcher has studied the motility of Borrelia burgdorferi (the spirochete that causes Lyme disease) for several years, using a combination of genetics, light microscopy, and electron microscopy. The current project involves visualizing the structures responsible for its motility with electron cryotomography, an electron microscope technique that reveals three-dimensional structures while avoiding artifacts associated with previous techniques. The researcher has the necessary image sequences of these cells, obtained in collaboration with the electron microscope facility of the Wadsworth Center, in Albany, NY. These sequences indicate characteristics that differ from those seen with previous techniques. Publishing the results of this technique requires three-dimensional color-graphics representations of the relevant structures, showing their forms and their relationships within the cell. Isosurface tracings have been completed, using Amira software, and published during this period.