Whole lifespan microscopic observation of budding yeast aging through a microfluidic dissection platform

Sung Sik Lee, Ima Avalos Vizcarra, Daphne H.E.W. Huberts, Luke P. Lee, Matthias Heinemann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

179 Scopus citations


Important insights into aging have been generated with the genetically tractable and short-lived budding yeast. However, it is still impossible today to continuously track cells by high-resolution microscopic imaging (e.g., fluorescent imaging) throughout their entire lifespan. Instead, the field still needs to rely on a 50-y-old laborious and time-consuming method to assess the lifespan of yeast cells and to isolate differentially aged cells for microscopic snapshots via manual dissection of daughter cells from the larger mother cell. Here, we are unique in achieving continuous and high-resolution microscopic imaging of the entire replicative lifespan of single yeast cells. Our microfluidic dissection platform features an optically prealigned single focal plane and an integrated array of soft elastomer-based micropads, used together to allow for trapping of mother cells, removal of daughter cells, monitoring gradual changes in aging, and unprecedented microscopic imaging of the whole aging process. Using the platform, we found remarkable age-associated changes in phenotypes (e.g., that cells can show strikingly differential cell and vacuole morphologies at the moment of their deaths), indicating substantial heterogeneity in cell aging and death. We envision the microfluidic dissection platform to become a major tool in aging research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4916-4920
Number of pages5
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number13
StatePublished - 27 Mar 2012


  • Lifespan analysis
  • Live-cell imaging
  • Replicative aging
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae


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