New cells don’t just appear from nowhere but are produced by an existing cell splitting in two. This underpins all life as we know it, from the division of a single fertilised egg cell, kick-starting the process that will ultimately produce a baby, to the rampant growth of bacteria and cancer cells. This time-lapse collage reveals a living cancer cell dividing over roughly half an hour, magnified 150 times. The cell’s DNA - its genetic instructions - is dyed red while the flexible membrane surrounding it is stained blue. Starting at the centre of the spiral, the DNA is copied then split into two equal ‘helpings’. Gradually the cell membrane stretches and pinches between them, creating two new cells where only one existed before. After a short rest the cycle begins again, creating thousands of cells in just a few days.
Written by Kat Arney
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.