14 November 2008

If you liked something in this blog...

The Open Laboratory 2008 is a competition for science writing in blogs. The current list of nominees is here, and yes, I self-nominated a post from this year from this blog. If there was a post this year you liked, you might consider mentioning it by this form.

Glorious movies of zebrafish development

This week, Science published an article about zebrafish development. The article, however, does not do justice to the joyous, glorious movies that it is about. Single frames don't do -- you really have to see these things in motion.

Check it out here. I think many people will find them fascinating, even non-biologists. The early stages show near-simultaneous cell divisions making the embryo pulse, while the later stages show cells rolling around the embryo like fireworks obeying some strange alternate laws of gravity.

Since zebrafish represent the kind of work that Marmorkrebs are very good for -- development -- the natural question to ask is, can similar approaches be applied to Marmorkrebs eggs? Hard to say. Zebrafish embryos are quite transparent, whereas Marmorkrebs embryos are more yolky and therefore opaque. But many things are possible, and this technology might be able to visualize at least parts of what's going on.

The follow-up question might be, "Can I play with those great toys?" The "toys" in this case is their modified confocal microscope that made this possible. Alas, not possible for me, since the team hails from Germany.

Zebrafish frame grab 2