Measurements of population dynamics are ubiquitous in experiments with microorganisms. Studies with microbes elucidating adaptation, selection, and competition rely on measurements of changing populations in time. Despite this importance, quantitative methods for measuring population dynamics microscopically, with high time resolution, across many replicates remain limited. Here we present a new noninvasive method to precisely measure microbial spatiotemporal population dynamics based on digital in-line holographic (DIH) microscopy. Our inexpensive, replicate DIH microscopes imaged hundreds of swimming algae in three dimensions within a volume of several microliters on a time scale of minutes over periods of weeks.
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