Valérie Pineau Noël

Position: Master student in Biophotonics, Laval University, Québec, Canada

Academia: Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry, Laval University, Québec, Canada

Advisors: Prof. Daniel Côté and Prof. Paul De Koninck


Keywords: Brain-gut-microbiome axis, neuronal activity, HiLo microscopy, zebrafish

Speckled illumination HiLo microscopy for fast 3D calcium imaging of in vivo zebrafishes’ brains.

The brain-gut-microbiome axis is a way the central nervous system (CNS), the gastrointestinal tract (GI tract) and the gut microbiota communicate with each other via biochemical signaling. Indeed, it has been shown by preclinical and clinical studies that there is a circular communication loop amid the brain, the gut and the gut microbiome. Any perturbation can propagate dysregulation throughout the circuit and affect molecule secretion, gene expression, molecule interaction and more; a simple physiological stress can compromise the equilibrium of the floral ecosystem of the gut, which can influence the development of the CNS. Those changes in the metabolism can then affect entirely the mental health of an individual. Although the influence of the microbiota on its host, particularly on the host’s brain, is still misunderstood and more research needs to be done.
A wide-field imaging technique, called HiLo microscopy, is built and optimize in my project to obtain an incomparable and fast optically sectioned imaging of GCaMP transgenic zebrafishes’ brain for the study of the brain-gut-microbiota axis. Indeed, HiLo microscopy has been proven to acquire images as fast as confocal microscopy, but the simplicity, robustness and versality of HiLo microscopy makes it an interesting technique for obtaining information of in vivo thick samples.
Also, in collaboration with other research groups, the acquisitions done with the HiLo microscope need to be properly analyze using machine learning. We want to find a way to quantify as precise as possible the neuronal activity of the zebrafish brain according to numerous conditions of the intestinal microbiota. Then statistical analysis can be used to distinguish significant differences between microbial conditions.
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Valérie was born in Winnipeg, CA, but moved in the province of Québec when she was five. Biology and chemistry were both disciplines of great interest for her early in her studies. Optical physics rather started to intrigue her more a bit later during college. She started a baccalaureate degree in Biochemistry at Laval University in fall 2016 and found out that it was neither biology nor physics that captivates her the most, but the combination of both fields. Therefore, she decided to focus more on biophysics, improving her understanding of optics in biological contexts. It is during her 2018 summer intership in the DCCLab that she discovered a strong interest in developing and designing new imaging techniques to study the brain. Valérie adores working in driving and social environments like Daniel Côté’s lab, which fits her persistent and dynamic traits. Dancing, swimming, drawing and science popularization are also some of her interests and hobbies.