Navigation Links
Marsupial embryo jumps ahead in development
Date:11/29/2010

DURHAM, N.C. Long a staple of nature documentaries, the somewhat bizarre development of a grub-like pink marsupial embryo outside the mother's womb is curious in another way.

Duke University researchers have found that the developmental program executed by the marsupial embryo runs in a different order than the program executed by virtually every other vertebrate animal.

"The limbs are at a different place in the entire timeline," said Anna Keyte, a postdoctoral biology researcher at Duke who did this work as part of her doctoral dissertation. "They begin development before almost any other structure in the body."

Biologists have been pursuing the notion that limb development is triggered by other organ systems coming on line first, but this study shows the marsupial's limbs begin development without such triggers.

"Development is probably more flexible than we might have known otherwise," said biology professor Kathleen Smith. Their study animals were gray short-tailed opossums (Monodelphis domestica) native to Brazil and Bolivia, but the same should hold true for any marsupial, Smith said.

For the undeveloped embryo to be able to drag itself across the mother's belly from the birth canal to the teat, it needs a formidable pair of forelimbs. To get them, its developmental program has been rearranged to start building the forelimbs much sooner.

"A lot of these genes were turned on earlier than you'd see in a mouse or a chick," Keyte said. The researchers were also able to show that the forelimbs received cells from a much larger part of the developing embryo than is normally seen in other vertebrates. What surprised the researchers was that the genetic program to establish the hind limbs also appeared to be turned on early.

Gene expression sets up the pattern of where each of the four limbs will be, but the marsupial's forelimbs grow much faster than the hind limbs because the embryo devotes more of its scarce number of early cells to building those structures, Smith said. The plans are in place for the hind limbs, but not the bricks to build them.

The embryo emerges from the mother with burly forearms that include bones and well developed muscles, while the hind limbs are small and rubbery.

Blind, hairless and with an incomplete brain, a marsupial embryo is shockingly underdeveloped to be living outside the womb. But the system obviously works for marsupials.

"There are probably 50 explanations for why marsupials develop outside the womb, and none of them are very good," Smith said. It's pretty clear however that the external development gives the female a lot more control over her reproduction. If conditions change or she runs out of food, the marsupial mother can easily terminate an external pregnancy.


'/>"/>

Contact: Karl Leif Bates
919-681-8054
Duke University
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. Researchers insert identification codes into mouse embryos
2. Snap of fruit fly embryo wins scientific photo competition
3. Earlier, more accurate prediction of embryo survival enabled by Stanford research
4. Auxogyn licenses noninvasive embryo assessment technology from Stanford University
5. Twins provide clue that genetic epilepsy can originate in the embryo
6. Research!America asks Congress to support embryonic stem cell research now
7. Test-tube calf embryos more likely to survive Texas summers
8. Congressman, CSHL president urge quick action to reverse judicial embryonic stem cell research ban
9. What makes a good egg and healthy embryo?
10. Digital embryo gains wings
11. New measurement of telomeres; DNA could help identify most viable embryos for IVF
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/24/2016)... patient care by providing unparalleled technology to leaders of the medical imaging industry.  As ... added to the range of products distributed by Ampronix. Photo - ... ... ... ...
(Date:5/16/2016)... 16, 2016   EyeLock LLC , a market ... opening of an IoT Center of Excellence in ... the development of embedded iris biometric applications. ... convenience and security with unmatched biometric accuracy, making it ... from DNA. EyeLock,s platform uses video technology to deliver ...
(Date:5/9/2016)... May 9, 2016 Elevay is ... to expanding freedom for high net worth professionals seeking ... today,s globally connected world, there is still no substitute ... ever duplicate sealing your deal with a firm handshake. ... by taking advantage of citizenship via investment programs like ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/24/2016)... ... 24, 2016 , ... While the majority of commercial spectrophotometers and fluorometers use ... 6000i models are higher end machines that use the more unconventional z-dimension of 20mm. ... from the bottom of the cuvette holder. , FireflySci has developed several Agilent ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... , June 23, 2016 /PRNewswire/ - FACIT ... Ontario biotechnology company, Propellon Therapeutics ... development and commercialization of a portfolio of first-in-class ... Epigenetic targets such as WDR5 represent an exciting ... significantly in precision medicine for cancer patients. Substantial ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... NEW YORK , June, 23, 2016  The ... students to envision new ways to harness living systems ... of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York ... more than 130 participating students, showcased projects at MoMA,s ... included Paola Antonelli , MoMA,s senior curator of ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Ky. , June 23, 2016 ... two Phase 1 clinical trials of its complement ... placebo-controlled, single and multiple ascending dose studies designed ... pharmacodynamics (PD) of subcutaneous injection in healthy adult ... subcutaneously (SC) either as a single dose (ranging ...
Breaking Biology Technology: