Monitoring the osmotic response of single yeast cells through force measurement in the environmental scanning electron microscope
Journal article, 2014

We present a measurement system that combines an environmental scanning electron microscope (ESEM) and an atomic force microscope (AFM). This combination enables studies of static and dynamic mechanical properties of hydrated specimens, such as individual living cells. The integrated AFM sensor provides direct and continuous force measurement based on piezoresistive force transduction, allowing the recording of events in the millisecond range. The in situ ESEM-AFM setup was used to study Pichia pastoris wild-type yeast cells. For the first time, a quantified measure of the osmotic response of an individual yeast cell inside an ESEM is presented. With this technique, cell size changes due to humidity variations can be monitored with nanometre accuracy. In addition, mechanical properties were extracted from load-displacement curves. A Young's modulus of 13-15 MPa was obtained for the P. pastoris yeast cells. The developed method is highly interesting as a complementary tool for the screening of drugs directed towards cellular water transport activity and provides new possibilities of studying mechanosensitive regulation of aquaporins.

atomic force microscopy

in situ

environmental scanning electron microscopy

osmotic response

single cell characterization

cell viability

yeast cell


Anna Jansson

Chalmers, Applied Physics, Eva Olsson Group

SuMo Biomaterials

Alexandra Nafari

Chalmers, Microtechnology and Nanoscience (MC2)

Kristina Hedfalk

University of Gothenburg

Eva Olsson

Chalmers, Applied Physics, Eva Olsson Group

Krister Svensson

Karlstad University

Anke Sanz-Velasco

Chalmers, Applied Physics, Electronics Material and Systems

Measurement Science and Technology

0957-0233 (ISSN) 1361-6501 (eISSN)

Vol. 25 2 Art. no. 025901- 025901

Subject Categories

Physical Sciences



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