Some animals have the impressive ability to regenerate whole limbs after injury. For thousands of years humans have watched in awe, wondering ‘why don’t we do that?’ and ‘could we?’ Here researchers take a step towards answering these questions by watching how the amputated leg of a crustacean Parhyale hawaiensis regenerates. The leg’s red-coloured exoskeleton highlights the shape of the leg stump six days after the tip was cut off. An advanced microscope peers inside the transparent creature. But in order to watch over an entire week, the leg must be stuck to a microscopy slide, keeping its cells in focus while the animal wriggles and feeds. Researchers were rewarded with a video of the step-by-step process that completely rebuilds the leg tissue. Understanding these steps is the next challenge, but for now a brand new leg tip, shown bunched up at the top of the exoskeleton, prepares to stretch out.
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.