Zebrafish are a trusty model organism for developmental biologists looking to draw parallels with humans. They share many of our genes but they’re also transparent, making their delicate early stages easier to examine. Pictured under a high-powered microscope, this developing tail fin hosts early nerve cells (neurons, green) shaping part of the fish’s peripheral nervous system. Cells and chemicals in the surrounding extracellular matrix (ECM, purple) are likely to help – research shows a role for the ECM in guiding neurons into place and encouraging growth. Here, some parts of the ECM have been genetically modified to show researchers where their fluorescent forms settle. Studying the interaction with peripheral nerves may shed new light on the morphogenesis, or pattern forming that takes place in early development, in fish and humans alike.
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.