First-ever 3D video of shape-shifting embryo holds ‘ground-breaking’ new data

‘The most important time in your life’ is what researchers are calling a 3D video of a live embryo that was seen shape-shifting from a sphere to a mushroom and then back to a sphere again. The organism’s actions will assist the research team in understanding the significant mechanical process in the early development stages for animals.

The first 3D images that were captured were of a green alga called Volvox. The images provided the researchers with an ideal trial case for their study. They used fluorescent microscopy to observe the embryos while it was in its live state, then make and test morphogenesis from a mathematical model.

The team’s 3D video goes on to explain how changes in the cell’s shape can affect the process of inversion among embryos. During the inversion stage, one side of the embryo decreases in size while the opposite side grows bigger in length. This shape change allowed the researchers to make the first effective mathematical model that can explain the process. ‘It’s exciting to be able to finally visualize this intriguing process in 3D. This simple organism may provide ground-breaking information to help us understand similar processes in many different types of animals,’ stated Dr. Stephanie Hohn, who is a part of the research study team.

In the end, the video demonstrated that cell shape changes in an invagination region are produced by an active fundamental force acting inside the cell, and not because of deformations. The model that the team created may provide accurate analysis for other higher animals since comparable behavior was detected in both organisms.

‘The power of this mathematical model is that we can identify which cell deformations are needed to cause the embryo movements that we observe in nature,’ stated Dr. Aurelia Honerkamp-Smith who is the co-author of the study.

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