Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Three Minute Warning

Following embryonic fly development in real time - a lot is determined in the first three minutes

07 December 2018

Three Minute Warning

A lot can happen in three minutes. You could boil an egg, walk a few hundred metres, or have a quick argument on social media. For a newly-fertilised fruit fly embryo, the first three minutes of development are probably the most important of its entire life. A fly egg is packed with all sorts of useful molecules known as morphogens, laid down in precise patterns that determine important aspects of the embryo such as which end is the head and which is the tail. As soon as the egg is fertilised, the morphogens spring into action and start switching on genes that begin the process of development in a matter of minutes. These images represent data from a new real-time imaging technique that captures this frenzy of gene activity as coloured spots, shown in a healthy embryo (top) and two others with faults in an important developmental gene called Zelda.

Written by Kat Arney

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