Viral plaque analysis on a wide field-of-view, time-lapse, on-chip imaging platform†
The observation of viral plaques is the standard method for determining the viral titer and understanding the behaviors of viruses. Here, we report the application of a wide field-of-view (FOV), time-lapse, on-chip imaging platform, termed the ePetri, for plaque analysis of murine norovirus 1 (MNV-1). The ePetri offers the ability to dynamically track plaques at the individual cell death event level over a wide FOV of 6 mm × 4 mm. As demonstration, we captured high-resolution time-lapse images of MNV-1-infected cells at 30 min intervals. We implemented a customized image-processing program containing a density-based clustering algorithm to analyze the spatial-temporal distribution of cell death events to identify plaques at their earliest stages. By using the results in a viral titer count format, we showed that our approach gives results that are comparable to conventional plaque assays. We further showed that the extra information collected by the ePetri can be used to monitor the dynamics of plaque formation and growth. Finally, we performed a demonstration experiment to show the relevance of such an experimental format for viral inhibitor study. We believe the ePetri is a simple and compact solution for the automation of viral plaque assays, plaque behavior analysis, and antiviral drug discovery and study.