Improved volume rendering for the visualization of living cells examined with confocal microscopy
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This research applies recent advances in 3D isosurface reconstruction to images of test spheres and plant cells growing in suspension culture. Isosurfaces that represent object boundaries are constructed with a Marching Cubes algorithm applied to simple data sets, i.e., fluorescent test beads, and complex data sets, i.e., fluorescent plant cells, acquired with a Zeiss Confocal Laser Scanning Microscope (LSM). The marching cubes algorithm treats each pixel or voxel of the image as a separate entity when performing computations. To test the spatial accuracy of the reconstruction, control data representing the volume of a 25 micrometer test sphere was obtained with the LSM. This volume was then judged on the basis of uniformity and smoothness. Using polygon decimation and smoothing algorithms available through the Visualization Toolkit, `voxellated' test spheres and cells were smoothed using several different smoothing algorithms after unessential polygons were eliminated. With these improvements, the shape of subcellular organelles could be modeled at various levels of accuracy. However, in order to accurately reconstruct these complex structures of interest to us, the subcellular organelles of the endosomal system or the endoplasmic reticulum of plant cells, measurements of the accuracy of connectedness (continuity vs contiguity) of structures need to be developed.