Visualization of metallodrugs in single cells by secondary ion mass spectrometry imaging
We present a quantitative, imaging technique based on nanometer-scale secondary ion mass spectrometry for mapping the 3D elemental distribution present in an individual micrometer-sized Bacillus spore. We use depth profile analysis to access the 3D compositional information of an intact spore without the additional sample preparation steps (fixation, embedding, and sectioning) typically used to access substructural information in biological samples. The method is designed to ensure sample integrity for forensic characterization of Bacillus spores. The minimal sample preparation/alteration required in this methodology helps to preserve sample integrity. Furthermore, the technique affords elemental distribution information at the individual spore level with nanometer-scale spatial resolution and high (microg/g) analytical sensitivity. We use the technique to map the 3D elemental distribution present within Bacillus thuringiensis israelensis spores.