Systems biology in 3D space - enter the morphome

J.M. Lucocq, T.M. Mayhew, Y. Schwab, A.M. Steyer, C. Hacker

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Systems-based understanding of living organisms depends on acquiring huge datasets from arrays of genes, transcripts, proteins, and lipids. These data, referred to as 'omes', are assembled using 'omics' methodologies. Currently a comprehensive, quantitative view of cellular and organellar systems in 3D space at nanoscale/molecular resolution is missing. We introduce here the term 'morphome' for the distribution of living matter within a 3D biological system, and 'morphomics' for methods of collecting 3D data systematically and quantitatively. A sampling-based approach termed stereology currently provides rapid, precise, and minimally biased morphomics. We propose that stereology solves the 'big data' problem posed by emerging wide-scale electron microscopy (EM) and can establish quantitative links between the newer nanoimaging platforms such as electron tomography, cryo-EM, and correlative microscopy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-64
Number of pages6
JournalTrends in Cell Biology
Issue number2
Early online date30 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2015


  • Morphome
  • Morphomics
  • Stereology
  • Electron microscopy
  • Quantitation
  • Serial EM


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