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Developmental biology is focus of new volume in laboratory manual series on imaging

COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y. (Jan. 4, 2011) -- Imaging technologies have revolutionized the study of developmental biology and are now essential tools for researchers in the field. A newly released laboratory manual, Imaging in Developmental Biology, presents a comprehensive set of visualization methods specifically for developmental biologists. It is the newest volume in a series of imaging manuals published by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press.

"[The] dynamic aspect of biology is one of its most fascinating characteristics, and it draws generation after generation of students absorbed in understanding how an organism develops," writes Rafael Yuste, the Series Editor. But, as he points out, "the imaging of living preparations has only recently become standard practice."

Where researchers once struggled to connect events at static timepoints, imaging tools now offer the ability to visualize the dynamic form and function of molecules, cells, tissues, and whole embryos throughout the entire developmental process. Imaging in Developmental Biology provides detailed explanations and instructions for mastering these necessary techniques.

The manual is organized into four sections, each containing background information and step-by-step protocols. The first section, Model Systems, is a primer on live imaging of standard model organisms, including C. elegans, Drosophila, zebrafish, Xenopus, avian species, and mouse. The last three sections are divided according to the level of organization visualized: Cells, Dynamic Tissues and Organs, and Whole Embryos. The Cells section includes methods for labeling cells, observing cell differentiation and migration, and imaging circuit formation in the nervous system. The Dynamic Tissues and Organs section includes protocols for imaging morphogen gradients and the development of a variety of organs and tissues including notochord, kidney, heart, and eye. The Whole Embryos section includes protocols for automated lineage and expression profiling, optical projection tomography, microCT, episcopic 3D imaging, magnetic resonance imaging, and digital scanned laser light-sheet fluorescence.

This new manual follows the first volume in the series, Imaging: A Laboratory Manual (, released last November. Whereas the first volume covers microscopy techniques and theoretical principles that are widely applicable to several fields of biology, this second, newly released volume focuses specifically on methods for imaging developmental processes in a variety of species.

Edited by James Sharpe (EMBL-CRG Systems Biology Unit, Barcelona, Spain) and Rachel Wong (University of Washington), each of the 57 chapters was written by leading imaging experts. An accompanying website,, features 16 movies of example results obtained using procedures described in the manual.

The manual is geared towards all employing imaging technologies for the study of developmental processes, from the graduate student level on up.


Contact: Jane Carter
Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

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