The analysis of all cell movements and all cell interactions in a vertebrate during the entire period of embryonic development is a fundamental goal in biology. Using DSLM, we recorded the development of entire zebrafish embryos in vivo and with sub-cellular resolution. By imaging at a speed of 1.5 billion volume elements per minute, image data in the order of several terabytes were acquired for each embryo over the time course of an entire day, i.e. up to a stage, in which the embryo comprises 20,000 cells and major organs are in a functional state. By using automated image processing algorithms the image data of each embryo were converted into a digital representation of the embryo (the "digital embryo"), i.e. a database with comprehensive information about migratory tracks and divisions of the embryo's cells. The digital embryos permit to follow single cells as a function of time such that the "fate" as well as the origin of the cells can be reconstructed. By means of these analyses, developmental blueprints of tissues and organs can be determined in a whole-embryo context. Defects in embryonic development or disease models can now be analyzed and understood on a quantitative level.
Proceedings of SPIE – SPIE
Published: Jul 2, 2009
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