Center of Cellular Nanoanalytics Osnabrück

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Concept & Research Fields


The Center of Cellular Nanoanalytics Osnabrueck is a joint venture of the schools of Biology/Chemistry, Human Sciences, Mathematics/Informatics and Physics to boost interdisciplinary research at the interface between nanosciences and cell biology.

CellNanOs aims to promote development and application of cutting-edge techniques for unraveling the fundamental principles of cellular microcompartments in the context of a variety of physiological processes. This topic is an overarching research focus within the Osnabrueck School of Biology and its collaborative research center SFB 944. Major methodological challenges in this research field are tackled by integrating the expertise in material science, photonics and processing of complex data that is available within the natural sciences in Osnabrueck. This know-how will be harnessed to push resolution limits and capabilities of imaging techniques, to facilitate qualitative and quantitative biochemical and structural analysis, and to convert experimental data into quantitative models. Collaborative activities in these fields are supported by a joint research building, which provides a dedicated infrastructure for interdisciplinary research projects covering four major fields of expertise:

Building with four pillars. Description of the four research fields that support the roof of the building. The roof represents the comprehensive understanding of cellular microcompartments.

Research fields of the CellNanOs at a glance. Details are sketched below.

Field A: Synthesis and Biofunctionalization

Coordinator: Markus Haase

Research field A aims at developing reporter with tailored physical and biological properties for spectroscopic and microscopic interrogation of cellular microcompartments. To this end, we focus on the synthesis of organic and inorganic probes as well surface biofunctionalization techniques. Specific approaches followed within research field A include:

  • Targeting techniques for site-specific labeling with photostable and photoswitchable organic fluorescent dyes
  • Synthesis and biofunctionalization of energy-converting nanoparticles for local photoactivation and photomanipulation
  • Spin probes for site-specific protein labeling in complex cellular environments
  • Photoactivatable/photosynthesizable lipids and reagents
  • Surface micro- and nanopatterning for functional interfacing with biomolecules and cells

Field B: Visualization and Manipulation

Coordinator: Jacob Piehler

The focus of research field B is the advancement and adaptation of high and superresolution microscopy techniques in order to resolve the spatiotemporal organization of cellular microcompartmens. Developing streamlined workflows for the combination of complementary imaging modalities will be key. Current activities in this research field include:

  • Provide access to state-of-the-art high resolution fluorescence microscopy techniques
  • Extend single molecule localization microscopy to super-resolved volumetric Imaging
  • Develop multi-photon excitation microscopy techniques focusing upon varying non linear optic (NLO) nanomaterials
  • Establish electron microscopy for three-dimensional ultrastructural imaging and for localizing proteins and protein complexes within cellular microcompartments
  • Adapt labeling techniques to facilitate correlative light and electron microscopy (CLEM)

Field C: Qualitative and Quantitative Interaction Analytics

Coordinator: Heinz-Jürgen Steinhoff

Within research field C, we will develop and share techniques to dissect the protein and lipid compositions of microcompartments as well as identify and quantify molecular interactions. Our methodological repertoire includes:

  • Mass spectrometric analyses of proteins and lipids in combination with optical and magnetic methods in order to selectively manipulate and isolate subcellular samples
  • Solid-phase based techniques for quantitative interaction analyses with purified protein and native cellular samples
  • Quantitative binding assays for the localization and quantification of interactions in living cells
  • Structural biology techniques for investigating of protein conformations and conformational dynamics in their native Environment.

Field D: Image Processing, Modeling and Simulation

Coordinator: Stefan Kunis

Research field D is dedicated to the development and implementation of algorithms and methods within the framework of biological problems by close collaboration with mathematicians, physicists and cognitive scientists. Specific aims of this research field include:

  • Provide a comprehensive infrastructure for quantitative evaluation and visualization of data from advanced imaging techniques
  • Develop new approaches to volumetric superresolution image Analysis
  • Identify causality and correlations in complex data sets
  • Mechanistic description of molecular processes up to complete microcompartments.