Video-enhanced contrast, differential interference contrast (AVEC-DIC) microscopy: a new method capable of analyzing microtubule-related motility in the reticulopodial network of Allogromia laticollaris

Cell Motil. 1981;1(3):291-302. doi: 10.1002/cm.970010303.


A new method called Allen Video-enhanced Contrast, Differential Interference Contrast (AVEC-DIC) microscopy is shown to be sufficiently sensitive to detect several new features of microtubule-related motility in the reticulopodial network of the foraminifer, Allogromia. The method takes advantage of the variable gain and offset features of a binary video camera to operate the DIC microscope under conditions highly favorable for video imaging, but in which the optical image is virtually invisible to the eye yet retains its full information when viewed by a suitable video camera. The improvements are made possible by setting a dé Senarmont compensator to lambda/9-lambda/4 at maximal working aperture of internally corrected planapochromatic objectives. Under these conditions, the offset feature of the video camera can reject so much stray light from the instrument and specimen that contrast compares favorably with that observed in high-extinction images, and polarizing rectifiers offer scarcely any advantage. Freed from the constraints of the light-limited conditions of DIC microscopy, video images can be recorded 60 times per second, or over 1,000 times the rate of photomicrographs at comparable magnifications under high-extinction conditions. Application of this method to the reticulopodial network of Allogromia has shown that cytoplasmic organelles are translocated only in contact with single microtubules or bundles of microtubules, and that these organelles fail to move when separated from microtubules. Microtubules themselves undergo both axial translatory ("sliding") and lateral "zipping and unzipping" movements that have been suggested to occur during mitosis and other biological processes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Epithelium / ultrastructure
  • Eukaryota / physiology
  • Eukaryota / ultrastructure*
  • Humans
  • Microscopy
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Microscopy, Interference
  • Microtubules / ultrastructure*
  • Mouth Mucosa / ultrastructure
  • Videotape Recording