For those looking to add to their arsenal of laboratory techniques, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press has just released a new series of Imaging manuals.

I had a hand in putting these books together, and I’m always pleased when we manage to publish books that I know I would have found incredibly helpful in my previous incarnation as a bench scientist. These two hit home as I was a postdoc in an imaging lab. While that was ten (10!!!) years ago, it’s almost shocking to realize that there weren’t any comprehensive lab manuals out there that really covered the whole of bio-imaging, from the basics of optics to the most current, bleeding-edge techniques. Consider that problem solved, courtesy of series editor Rafa Yuste.

The new series spins off from a previous set of publications. In 2000, CSHL Press published Imaging Neurons, based on a CSHL laboratory course. The book was a few years ahead of its time, and the methods had really caught on by the time the sequel, Imaging in Neuroscience and Development was released in 2005. Five years later, and there’s been far too many new applications developed to fit into one volume, hence the release of the new series.

Imaging: A Laboratory Manual is the flagship of the series. It offers all the basics: optics, confocal, multi-photon, lasers, cameras, staining cells, etc. The manual goes on from there though, through labeling and indicators to advanced techniques like photoactivation, light sheet imaging, array tomography, fast imaging, molecular imaging, superresolution imaging and every acronym you can think of (FRET, FLIM, FRAP, FIONA, PALM, STORM, BiFC, AFM, TIRFM to name a sampling). If you have a microscope in your lab or if you spend any time in your local imaging center, this is the book you need.

Imaging in Developmental Biology: A Laboratory Manual is the second book in the series, just released. We old-school developmental biologists used to have to look at fixed sectioned specimens taken from different time points, and try to piece together the big picture of what was really happening as an embryo developed. New techniques have revolutionized our understanding of dynamic processes, as they allow for real-time imaging, often over the entire course of an organism’s development. Like the preceding volume, the book starts with the basics, methods for visualizing development in laboratory standard model organisms (C. elegans, Drosophila, zebrafish, Xenopus, avians and mouse) and then step by step brings the reader to the cutting edge of imaging technology.

The supplemental movies from both books are freely available through Cold Spring Harbor Protocols. Look for a third volume in March, on Imaging in Neuroscience, which will offer an astounding 90-plus chapters for analyzing every aspect of the nervous system in detail.