Following electrophoresis, the gels can be imaged and analyzed using a variety of imaging systems. The electrophoresis patterns (called electropherograms) are digitized by dedicated image acquisition devices, and data are analyzed with sophisticated software. Once the gels are digitized, the raw data can be stored for further reference. This section provides an overview of the suite of gel imaging systems that Bio-Rad offers and highlights their features.
The selection of which image acquisition device to use for the digitization of electrophoresis gels depends on the staining technique used (see Imager Selection Table below):
Related Topics: Image Analysis Software.
Densitometers are based on high-performance document scanners utilizing visible light for analysis of electrophoresis gels and blots stained with visible dyes. Bio-Rad's GS-900™ Calibrated Densitometer can be used to image both gels and blots and has a linear response up to 3.0 optical units in gray levels.
GS-900 Calibrated Densitometer.
Charge-coupled device (CCD) cameras operate with either transillumination, provided by UV or visible light boxes positioned underneath the gel or blot for imaging a variety of stains (Coomassie, silver, fluorescence), or epi-illumination, detected using colorimetric or fluorescent techniques. Supercooled CCD cameras reduce image noise, allowing detection of faint luminescent signals.
The ability to visualize gels without a staining step has gained popularity recently. Stain-free technology has several advantages over staining procedures. In particular, it eliminates the need for a lengthy destaining step, makes visualization faster and more efficient, and eliminates disposal of organic waste generated during destaining. The stain-free enabled imagers come with an automated imaging and analysis system and give less background compared to traditional Coomassie staining procedures, thereby reducing variability between and within gels.
See the Imaging Systems Selection Guide below for full details of the capabilities of each imaging system.
Laser-based scanners offer the highest sensitivity, resolution, and linear dynamic range. They are powerful image acquisition tools for electrophoresis gels and blots stained with fluorescent dyes like Flamingo™ Fluorescent Gel Stain. Lasers can be matched to the excitation wavelengths of a multitude of fluorophores. Bio-Rad's PharosFX™ Systems use multiple lasers to enhance application flexibility and allow optimal excitation of single- and multicolor fluorescent samples, which enables the detection of almost any fluorescent dye or label.
- Not recommended; 1–5, recommendation level (5 = highest).* Optimal with low fluorescence PVDF membrane.** With spot features ≥400 µm.
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