Manually orienting Drosophila (fruit fly) embryos is like trying to balance a grain of rice on its tip. However thanks to a novel microfluidic device, scientists can now trap and right hundreds of embryos in an instant for immediate viewing under the microscope. The neon circles pictured are in fact embryos in which an array of proteins that orchestrate the development of fly muscle, nervous system and skin have been stained. Using a confocal microscope to scan through each embryo, the different layers of proteins become visible. By integrating protein position with the intensity of its colour, researchers will be able to build mathematical models to help understand the signals driving fruit fly development. The process is surprisingly similar to the first stages of human embryo growth.
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.