Imaging Systems

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Overview

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.

Imaging and analysis systems


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

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-800 calibrated densitometer

GS-900 Calibrated Densitometer

Charge-Coupled Device (CCD) Cameras

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, which detects blots 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.

ChemiDoc Touch system Gel Doc EZ system Gel Doc XR+ system Gel Doc XR+ system ChemiDoc MP system
Stain-Free Enabled
ChemiDoc Touch
System
Stain-Free Enabled
Gel Doc EZ System
Stain-Free Enabled
Gel Doc XR+
System
Stain-Free Enabled
ChemiDoc XRS+
System
Stain-Free Enabled
ChemiDoc MP
System
  • The ChemiDoc™ Touch System is a full-feature instrument for gel or western blot imaging. It is designed for chemiluminescence detection, stain-free fluorescence detection, and general documentation applications
  • The Gel Doc™ EZ System is a compact and automated imaging system. Trays specific for different applications afford flexibility and the Image Lab™ Software provides publication-quality images and analyzed results with the push of a button
  • The Gel Doc™ XR+ System is a fast, easy-to-use, completely automated gel imaging and documentation system controlled by Image Lab Image Capture and Analysis Software
  • The ChemiDoc™ XRS+ System is the fastest completely automated detection system for chemiluminescence, fluorescence, and colorimetric imaging controlled by Image Lab Image Capture and Analysis Software
  • The ChemiDoc™ MP System is a full-feature instrument for gel or western blot imaging. It is designed for multiplex fluorescence and chemiluminescence detection as well as general gel documentation applications

See the Imaging Systems Selection Guide below for full details of the capabilities of each imaging system.

Laser-Based Scanners

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.

PharosFX system
PMI system

PharosFX System

PMI™ System

Bio-Rad Gel and Blot Imaging Systems Selection Guide

  ChemiDoc Touch ChemiDoc MP GelDoc EZ GS-900 Gel Doc XR+ Personal Molecular Imager
ChemiDoc™
Touch
ChemiDoc™
MP
Gel Doc™
EZ
GS-900™ Gel Doc™
XR+
ChemiDoc™
XRS+
PharosFX™
Plus
Personal Molecular
Imager
Nucleic Acid Detection
Ethidium Bromide 4 4 4 4 4 5
SYBR® Green I Stain 4 4 4 4 4 5
SYBR® Safe Stain 4 4 4 4 4 5
Coumarin Stain 4 4 4 5
Fast Blast™ DNA Stain 4 4 4 5 4 4
Protein Staining, 1-D Gels
Stain-Free Gels 5 5 5 5 5
Coomassie Blue Stain 4 4 4 5 4 4 2
Silver Stain 4 4 4 5 4 4 2
SYPRO Ruby Protein Blot Stain 4 4 4 4 4 5
Flamingo™ Fluorescent Gel Stain 4 4 3 3 3 5
Oriole™ Fluorescent Gel Stain 5 5 5 5 5
Protein Staining, 2-D Gels
Coomassie Blue Stain 4 4 4 5 3 3 2
Silver Stain 4 4 4 5 3 3 2
Flamingo Fluorescent Gel Stain 3 3 2 3 3 5
Oriole Fluorescent Gel Stain 5 4 4 3 4 4 3 3
Pro-Q Stain 3 4 2 2 3 5
Cy2, Cy3, Cy5 Label 4 5
Blot Detection
Stain-Free Blots 5 4 4 4 4
Colorimetric Blots 5 3 3 5 3 3 2 2
Coomassie Blue Stain 5 4 5 4 4 2
Silver Stain 5 4 5 4 4 2
SYPRO Ruby Protein Blot Stain* 3 4 5
Immun-Star™
Chemiluminescence
5 4 4
Chemifluorescence* 1 5 1 1 4
Qdot Stain* 5 4 2 2 2 5
Multiplex Fluorescence 5
Micro- and Macroarray** Detection
Radiolabel 5 5
Fluorescence 5 2 2 5
Immun-Star™
Chemiluminescence
5 4 4
Isotopic Detection
Radiolabel
5 5
X-Ray Film 4 4 5 4 4 3

- Not recommended; 1–5, recommendation level (5 = highest).
*    Optimal with low fluorescence PVDF membrane.
**   With spot features ≥400 µm.

Related Content

Gel Doc EZ System Tour
In this interactive demonstration, you will be able to test drive the Gel Doc EZ imager and dig deeper into the instrument's capabilities, specifications, and features.
 
Literature
Number Description Download
6517 ChemiDocâ„¢ Touch Imaging System Brochure, Rev A Click to download
6483 Stain-Free Software Upgrade Quick Start Guide, Rev A Click to download
5989 Imaging Fluorescently Stained Gels with Image Lab Software Quick Start Guide, Rev A Click to download
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