Super-resolution imaging for cell biologists: concepts, applications, current challenges and developments

Bioessays. 2015 Apr;37(4):436-51. doi: 10.1002/bies.201400170. Epub 2015 Jan 12.


The recent 2014 Nobel Prize in chemistry honored an era of discoveries and technical advancements in the field of super-resolution microscopy. However, the applications of diffraction-unlimited imaging in biology have a long road ahead and persistently engage scientists with new challenges. Some of the bottlenecks that restrain the dissemination of super-resolution techniques are tangible, and include the limited performance of affinity probes and the yet not capillary diffusion of imaging setups. Likewise, super-resolution microscopy has introduced new paradigms in the design of projects that require imaging with nanometer-resolution and in the interpretation of biological images. Besides structural or morphological characterization, super-resolution imaging is quickly expanding towards interaction mapping, multiple target detection and live imaging. Here we review the recent progress of biologists employing super-resolution imaging, some pitfalls, implications and new trends, with the purpose of animating the field and spurring future developments.

Keywords: PALM; SIM; STED; STORM; affinity-probes; cell imaging; sub-diffraction imaging.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Microscopy / methods*