The last decade has seen a rapid increase in the number of tools to acquire volume electron microscopy (EM) data. Several new scanning EM (SEM) imaging methods have emerged, and classical transmission EM (TEM) methods are being scaled up and automated. Here we summarize the new methods for acquiring large EM volumes, and discuss the tradeoffs in terms of resolution, acquisition speed, and reliability. We then assess each method's applicability to the problem of reconstructing anatomical connectivity between neurons, considering both the current capabilities and future prospects of the method. Finally, we argue that neuronal 'wiring diagrams' are likely necessary, but not sufficient, to understand the operation of most neuronal circuits: volume EM imaging will likely find its best application in combination with other methods in neuroscience, such as molecular biology, optogenetics, and physiology.
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