We all grow from a tiny ball of cells to a complex creature with features like brains, limbs, and guts. Growing organs like these involves 3D folding, and the shape formed is determined by how the cells and tissues within it move and grow. Scientists have been using Snapdragon flowers to examine shapes like this, as the way their cells move is simpler. Computer models were used to show the flower shape when the tissue grew in different ways, producing different internal forces. These models could then be compared to actual flowers, both normal ones and flowers that hadn’t formed in their usual shape due to mutations (pictured). They found that cells in different parts can grow at different rates, making areas of the petal bend into particular shapes. Although our cells move in more complex ways than plant cells, this may help us understand how our organs form.
Written by Esther Redhouse White
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences (the new name for the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre) 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.