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Speedy computation enables scientists to reconstruct an animal's development cell by cell
Date:7/20/2014

ed by the microscope, and the result is lineage information for every cell. "You know the path, you know where it is at a certain time point. You know it divided at a certain point, you know the daughter cells, you know what mother cell it came from," Keller says.

Finally, a human steps in to check the computer's work and fix any mistakes. A computer-generated "confidence score" for every cell at every time point guides the user to the small percentage of data most likely to require a human eye, making high overall accuracy possible without manual examination of each cell.

To test the power of the program, Keller's team collected images of the beginnings of the nervous system as it developed in an embryonic fruit fly. They used their method to trace the lineages of 295 neuroblasts (precursors of nerve cells) and discovered that it is possible to predict the future fate and function of many cells based on their early dynamic behavior.

Keller is eager to begin using the method to investigate a variety of questions about early development, and hopes that others will apply the approach to their own questions. To that end, the team took care to ensure that the technique can be used with a variety of data types. In addition to fruit flies, they successfully used the program to analyze images of zebrafish and mice, as well as data collected from a commercial light sheet microscope and a commercial confocal microscope.


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Contact: Jim Keeley
keeleyj@hhmi.org
301-215-8858
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Source:Eurekalert  

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