Bioluminescence imaging with luciferase-luciferin pairs is a well-established technique for visualizing biological processes across tissues and whole organisms. Applications at the microscale, by contrast, have been hindered by a lack of detection platforms and easily resolved probes. We addressed this limitation by combining bioluminescence with phasor analysis, a method commonly used to distinguish spectrally similar fluorophores. We built a camera-based microscope equipped with special optical filters to directly assign phasor locations to unique luciferase-luciferin pairs. Six bioluminescent reporters were easily resolved in live cells, and the readouts were quantitative and instantaneous. Multiplexed imaging was also performed over extended time periods. Bioluminescent phasor further provided direct measures of resonance energy transfer in single cells, setting the stage for dynamic measures of cellular and molecular features. The merger of bioluminescence with phasor analysis fills a long-standing void in imaging capabilities, and will bolster future efforts to visualize biological events in real time and over multiple length scales.
© 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature America, Inc.