Over the last 50 years modern cell biology has been driven by the development of powerful imaging techniques. In particular, new developments in light microscopy that provide the potential to image the dynamics of biological events have had significant impact. Optical sectioning techniques allow three-dimensional information to be obtained from living specimens noninvasively. When used with multimodal fluorescence microscopy, advanced optical sectioning techniques provide multidimensional image data that can reveal information not only about the changing cytoarchitecture of a cell but also about its physiology. These additional dimensions of information, although providing powerful tools, also pose significant visualization challenges to the investigator. Particularly in the current postgenomic era there is a greater need than ever for the development of effective tools for image visualization and management. In this review we discuss the visualization challenges presented by multidimensional imaging and describe three open-source software programs being developed to help address these challenges: ImageJ, the Open Microscopy Environment, and VisBio.
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Vol. 81 • No. 5