Atlases are not restricted to the confines of cartography; they also cover life at a much smaller scale. Using micro-computerised tomography, scientists have mapped out the structures of the mouse. Trying to understand how the human body works often requires us to look to mice, which share ninety per cent of our genome. Mutating genes in mice enables scientists to figure out what they might be doing in humans. If the gene in question is vital to survival, the developing mice often don’t make it to birth. Much can still be learnt from these mutant mouse embryos and that’s where the mouse atlas (pictured) comes into play. Scientists collected the average 3D measurements from normal mouse embryos, against which mutants can be compared to readily discover what physical differences a mutant gene can cause.
Written by Lux Fatimathas
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.