Grown from stem cells found in a mouse’s tongue, these round ‘organoids’ (roughly 100 times smaller than a strawberry bonbon or a Brussels sprout) hold clues to how the sense of taste develops. Pictured after ten days growing in a dish, the organoid on the top row (with its cells stained blue) has a centre of dividing stem cells (red and green). Yet some cells have begun to take on different roles – highlighted in a similarly-aged organoid (middle row) of 'skin tissue' cells (red) and maturing 'taste' cells (green) which will eventually form taste buds. In a 30 day-old organoid (bottom), taste and tissue cells have separated into different layers, mimicking what happens in real life. Organoids are handy tools for investigating how mammalian tissues develop; in this case raising interesting questions about how taste can mature so fully while cut off from the nervous system.
Written by John Ankers
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