Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The simple truth: Animal development not as complicated as it seems

14.01.2005


Professor Ricardo Azevedo’s research on the simplicity of cell lineages explained in Nature magazine



Shedding light upon evolution, a University of Houston professor studying cell lineages now finds surprising simplicity in the logic of animal development. Ricardo Azevedo, an assistant professor in the department of biology and biochemistry, specializes in how evolution changes the way animals develop. His recent findings using computational biology to reveal the surprisingly simple patterns of cell division in the embryos of small invertebrates is described in a paper titled "The Simplicity of Metazoan Cell Lineages," appearing in the current issue of Nature, the weekly scientific journal for biological and physical sciences research.

"The significance of my findings is that these cell lineages are not as complicated as many scientists have thus far believed," Azevedo said. "Our hope is that our approach of treating development as a computer program will help developmental biologists to analyze their favorite organisms."


Since we now understand much about how genes evolve, the attention of biologists like Azevedo has shifted toward elucidating the evolution of developmental mechanisms in the hope of unraveling how evolution modifies more complicated and, therefore, more interesting traits like body size, aging or behavior.

Azevedo and his colleagues constructed an algorithm to contrast the developmental complexity of different organisms based on their sequences of cell divisions, known in the trade as cell lineages. They compared the known cell lineages of three different nematode worms and a sea squirt with those randomly generated by a computer program. They found that the real embryos did not behave like the computer-generated ones, but instead showed that these organisms took fewer "different steps" to fully mature than predicted by chance. In other words, the development of these animals is simpler than it looks.

"It’s particularly noteworthy that all four organisms showed the same pattern," Azevedo said. "The sea squirt, a chordate, has a general body plan similar – albeit simplified – to that of humans, while the nematode worms are more distant relatives of ours. Yet, they have all evolved toward a similar level of developmental complexity."

This type of consistency, says Azevedo, may not only impact developmental biology, but also medicine. With humans being made up of trillions of cells, cell lineage analysis has been slower to catch on when compared to the study of the large groups of cells we call organs, such as the liver and the brain. However, research into cancer and stem cells has focused our interest on the behavior of individual cells. The hope is that cell lineage analysis will become more important in the future.

For a copy of the article, visit http://wwworm.biology.uh.edu/publications/azevedo05.pdf.

An evolutionary biologist who joined the UH faculty in 2003, Azevedo received his undergraduate training at the University of Lisbon in Portugal, followed by his doctorate from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He conducted his postdoctoral research at Imperial College in London and at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

Lisa Merkl | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uh.edu
http://wwworm.biology.uh.edu/publications/azevedo05.pdf.

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht New application for acoustics helps estimate marine life populations
16.01.2018 | University of California - San Diego

nachricht Unexpected environmental source of methane discovered
16.01.2018 | University of Washington Health Sciences/UW Medicine

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Scientists decipher key principle behind reaction of metalloenzymes

So-called pre-distorted states accelerate photochemical reactions too

What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...

Im Focus: The first precise measurement of a single molecule's effective charge

For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.

Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...

Im Focus: Paradigm shift in Paris: Encouraging an holistic view of laser machining

At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.

No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...

Im Focus: Room-temperature multiferroic thin films and their properties

Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.

Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...

Im Focus: A thermometer for the oceans

Measurement of noble gases in Antarctic ice cores

The oceans are the largest global heat reservoir. As a result of man-made global warming, the temperature in the global climate system increases; around 90% of...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

10th International Symposium: “Advanced Battery Power – Kraftwerk Batterie” Münster, 10-11 April 2018

08.01.2018 | Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Gran Chaco: Biodiversity at High Risk

17.01.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Only an atom thick: Physicists succeed in measuring mechanical properties of 2D monolayer materials

17.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Fraunhofer HHI receives AIS Technology Innovation Award 2018 for 3D Human Body Reconstruction

17.01.2018 | Awards Funding

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>