Medical Research Council - London Institute of Medical Sciences

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Nikon Small World Photomicrography Competition 2022 Start and Fin

07 February 2023

Start and Fin

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.

Written by John Ankers

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