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Bio Science Facility Core [BSFC]

The BSFC provides an extraordinary suite of biological characterization capabilities, ranging from cells and tissues to whole animals

About this Core

The BSCF supports the research activities of TiCER scientists by allowing access to cutting-edge cellular imaging modalities as well as physiological and molecular phenotyping technologies. This core exists to support research that integrates mechanistic understandings of environmental health risks along a continuum that ranges from in vitro to in vivo studies.Through the BSFC, Center members have streamlined and cost-effective access to state-of-the-art technologies, trainings, and services . These include structural and functional imaging of cultured cells, or organoid, spheroid, and organ-on-a-chip models; and whole animal physiological and molecular phenotyping technologies.

BSFC Scientists are:

  • Integrating analytical imaging technologies across biological scales from single molecule to population levels to identify, understand, and reduce adverse environmental health risks.
  • Generating spectral data bases for identification and spectral unmixing of toxicants and their metabolites.
  • Statistical image signal processing, modeling, and pattern recognition in biological systems.
  • Modeling and development of analytical tools for analysis of complex amplitude and frequency-encoded intracellular signals.
  • Developing customized software implementation for automation and analysis of new biological questions using commercial system design software.
  • Performing high-throughput, whole-animal metabolic and body composition measurements.
  • Conducting whole-animal imaging (ultrasound and endoscopic) with ultra-sensitive Speckle tracking.

BSFC Technologies

Imaging Technologies in the Image Analysis Laboratory

  • Zeiss ELYRA S.1 (SR-SIM) SR-Structured Illumination Microscope with AxioObserver Z1 inverted microscope, 405, 488, 561, and 643 nm laser lines, incubator system with temperature and CO2 control, and Zen Software. ELYRA S.1 can achieve a lateral resolution 100 nm and axial resolution of ~ 200 nm.
  • Zeiss LSM 780 NLO Multiphoton/confocal Microscope with AxioObserver Z1 inverted microscope, Chameleon multiphoton and Verdi pump lasers plus 7 laser lines, 34 channel spectral GaAsP detector for analysis of spectral signatures and separation of overlapping spectral emissions, Airyscan multichannel area detector (*New), motorized stage, incubator system with temperature and CO2 control, and Zen software for Physiology, fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET), and FRAP analyses. The system is interfaced with ISS fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) and fluorescence correlation spectroscopy (FCS) hardware and software.
  • Celldiscoverer 7 Automated Platform for High Content/High Throughput Live Cell Imaging (*New) of cultured cells, spheroids, organoids, explants, etc. with multiwell or microwell plates, chambered slides, culture dishes. The system is supported by internal environmental control for long term time lapse imaging, high NA autocorrection/autoimmersion optics, triggered LED fluorescence illumination.
  • Zeiss LSM 510 META Confocal Microscope with multiline argon laser and dual HeNe laser with three photomultiplier tubes, Axiovert 200M microscope, META module for spectral analysis and separation of overlapping spectral emissions, motorized stage for time series, and comprehensive software including Physiology, Sensitized Emission and Acceptor Photobleaching FRET, and FRAP analyses.
  • Zeiss Laser TIRF3 Microscope with 405 nm, 488 nm, 514 nm, 561 nm and 635 nm laser lines, modular AxioObserver microscope with Definite Focus and two ultrahigh NA TIRF objectives, 3 high NA DIC/wide-field fluorescence objectives, incubator chamber for temperature/CO2 control for time-lapse imaging.
  • Veritas Laser Microdissection System, a slide-based cell capture system that utilizes a microscope fitted with both UV and infrared lasers for laser cutting and laser capture microdissection of cells of interest for extraction of DNA, RNA, or protein and subsequent molecular analysis.
  • Zeiss Stallion Dual Detector Imaging System with Intelligent Imaging Innovations (3I) software, motorized Axiovert 200 with high NA fluorescence and DIC optics, deconvolution software and ApoTome slider for optical sectioning. The system is optimized for live cell imaging with incubator chamber for temperature/CO2 control, 2D time-lapse, 3D & 3D time-lapse (4D), FRET, and high-speed ratio imaging.
  • Axio Imager.M2 Motorized Upright Research Microscope (*New) with brightfield, darkfield, phase, DIC optics, fluorescence, LED illumination, Axiocam 503 mono & 305 color cameras, automated multichannel, Z-Stacks, Motorized X-Y-Z stage, Apotome.2 Optical Sectioning and ZEN 2.3 Software and Workstation.
  • Bio-Tek SynergyTM4 Multi-Mode Microplate Reader combining Xenon flash monochromator- and filter-based fluorescence detection to provide a broad range of applications including fluorescence intensity, time-resolved fluorescence, fluorescence polarization, luminescence, UV-visible absorbance, FRET, TR-FRET, BRET, well-area scanning, and spectral scanning.
  • FEI Company Morgani268 Transmission Electron Microscope (TEM), a 100-kV digital TEM controlled by a user interface and fully embedded digital image recording with CCD camera.
  • Support Equipment: Analytical instruments are housed in BSL-2 rooms and are enhanced by two complete BSL-2 cell culture facilities (three hoods, 4 new incubators), specimen preparation equipment (e.g., cryostat, ultramicrotomes, micromanipulators, microinjectors, vacuum evaporators, lyophilizer, 80°C freezers, etc.). Five microscope rooms dedicated for live cell imaging are BSL-2 certified. Custom-made real-time signal analysis hardware system and software is also available to Center members. All computers supporting analytical instruments are networked. TAMU provides individual investigators with file space (Filex) for data sharing and transfer of confidential information. The imaging facility has an additional 4 TB of designated data storage space on a secure network drive to facilitate data transfer to individual user computers. Comprehensive image processing/analysis software is available on different instruments and workstations (e.g., instrument image acquisition/processing software: Zeiss LSM, Axiovision, and ZEN, new Arivis InViewR, Arivis Vision4D, NIS Elements, Intelligent Imaging Innovations-Slidebook, MetaMorph, Image J; System design software: National Instruments LabVIEW; Technical computing software: MATLAB; Engineering calculation software: MathCad; Statistical analysis software: Prism, SAS, Minitab, and “R”. Software upgrades will continue to be purchased on a regular basis.

Phenotyping Technologies in the Rodent Phenotyping Shared Resource

  • Hematological and Fluid Chemistry assays. The Texas A&M Institute for Genome Sciences & Society (TIGSS) contains an Abaxis VetScan HM5 Color Hematology System, a fully automated, five-part differential hematology analyzer displaying a comprehensive 22-parameter complete blood count (CBC) with cellular histograms on an easy-to-read touch-screen. The Abaxis VetScan VS2, a chemistry, electrolyte, immunoassay and blood gas analyzer that delivers accurate results from two drops of whole blood, serum, or plasma. The Bio-Rad BioPlex 200 System is a suspension array system that supports analysis of protein and nucleic acids in a multiplex solution detecting up to 100 biomolecules in a single sample. Based on the Luminex xMAP technology, many optimized, multiplexed assay kits are available from different vendors to quantify cytokines, chemokines, adipokines, growth factors, cell signaling, apoptosis, hormones, and many other biomolecules. A BioTek Cytation 5 Multi-mode Microplate Reader combines automated digital microscopy and conventional microplate detection and includes both high-sensitivity filter-based detection and a flexible quadruple monochromator-based system with a fluorescence cellular imaging module at up to 60x magnification.
  • Behavioral assays. The Core provides users with a wide array of behavioral phenotyping equipment. The Coulbourn Habitest System is a modular test arena utilizing modular stimulus and response devices. Habitest applications span the behavioral gamut, including mazes and runways, operant conditioning, spatial activity, ergometry, active and passive avoidance, fear conditioning, place preference, feeding and drinking, and many more. The Coulbourn TRU SCAN Activity Monitoring System is a versatile system to monitor open field activity in up to three planes. Nose poke task, place preference, conditioned freezing, and light/dark tests can also be performed. Muscular strength is quantified using the Chatillon Force Measurement. The Mouse Specifics DigiGait Analysis System is used for comprehensive, high-throughput digital gait analysis by measuring voluntary and treadmill walking, hopping and running speeds, gait analysis on inclines, and many other parameters. An IITC Rotarod is used to assess motor coordination or fatigue resistance of rodents, and spatial learning and memory in rodents is assessed with a Morris Water Maze. 
  • Medical imaging. The VisualSonics Vevo 3100 Imaging System is an advanced ultra-high frequency micro-ultrasound imaging system for small animal research. Its applications include oncology (tumor detection and 2D/3D sizing, vascularity and perfusion, and tumor model characterization), abdominal physiology (kidney function, liver fibrosis, reproductive applications), developmental (placental structure and function, pregnancy screenings, embryo injections), and cardiovascular (cardiac function in 2D/3D/4D, hemodynamics, myocardial and vascular strain, and cardiotoxicity). The Karl Storz COLOView System is a high-definition colonoscopic examination allowing for colonic imaging in white light, contrast mode, and fluorescence, and biopsy in rodents.
  • Cardiovascular assessments. In conjunction with the Vevo 3100 Imaging System described above, the Vevo Strain Software is a sensitive tool for echocardiographic speckle-tracking that provides high-sensitivity in vivo phenotyping of cardiac function. Blood pressure in rodents is assessed with the Hatteras Mouse Multi-Channel Blood Pressure Analysis System, a non-invasive instrument designed to efficiently and effectively obtain accurate blood pressure. The Mouse Specifics ECGenie is used for rapid non-invasive recording of electrocardiograms (ECGs) in awake rodents (adults and pups) for arrhythmia detection, health monitoring, and screening.
  • Metabolism assessments. TSE PhenoMaster is modular high-throughput phenotyping platform for metabolic, behavioral, and physiological monitoring including indirect gas calorimetry, food and liquid intake, and locomotor activity. The EchoMRI 100H delivers precise body composition measurements of fat, lean, free water, and total water masses in live, unanesthetized animals weighing up to 100 grams. The Hatteras Metabolic Cage System is designed to house a single mouse for up to 48 hours to collect clean, uncontaminated, and refrigerated urine samples. There are currently 30 individual units available for use. Users also have access to an Agilent Seahorse XFe96 Analyzer for 96-well measurement of oxygen consumption rate and extracellular acidification rate indicators of mitochondrial respiration and glycolysis for a systems-level view of cellular metabolic function in cultured cells, spheroids, and ex vivo samples for mitochondrial function, metabolic phenotyping, dependency of cellular energy production on mitochondrial substrates, and glycolytic rates.
  • The following equipment and services are available for use through the Rodent Preclinical Phenotyping Core. For more information, please visit https://genomics.tamu.edu/preclinical-phenotyping/.
    • Behavoiral/Skeletomuscular
      • Colbourn Habitest System
      • Noldus Open Field
      • Noldus Three Chamber Sociability 
      • TRU SCAN Activity Monitoring System
      • Digigait Analysis System
      • EchoMRI
      • Rotarod Test
      • Chatillon Force Measurement
      • Morris Water Maze
    • Cancer/Cardiovascular
      • Vevo 3100 Ultrasound
      • SomnoSuit Mouse Anesthesia System
      • ECGenie
      • Stortz Rodent Endoscope
    • Metabolic
      • TSE Phenomaster
      • Hatteras Metabolic Cage System
      • Hatteras Multi-Channel Blood Pressure Analysis System
    • Chemical
      • Abaxis VetScan HM5 Color Hematology System (CBC)
      • Abaxis VetScan HM5 Color Hematology System (CBC) BSL2
      • Abaxis VetScan VS2 Chemical Analyzer
    • Analysis
      • Noldus Ethovision Analysis
      • Vevo Ultrasound Analysis
      • FreezeFrame 4 Analysis
      • Prism
    • Tube Writer
      • TubeWriter 360
    • Histology
      • Lecia ASP300 Tissue Processor
      • Lecia RM 2165
      • Lecia EG1150

Core Members

In Press

BSFC members have published in some prestigious peer-reviewed journals.

Contact

Rodent Phenotyping Shared Resource

Reynolds Medical Building
206 Olsen Blvd
College Station, TX 77845
+1 940-368-2374

Imaging Analysis Laboratory

Room B12
Veterinary Medical Administration (VMA) – Building #1206
402 Raymond Stotzer Parkway
College Station, TX 77843