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Tomato Catch-up
24 July 2015

Tomato Catch-up

Early life in plants has much in common with our own. Our developing organs go through rapid changes in shape and size as cells tug at each other, changing the landscape of living tissues forever. Special software has been developed to map these changes – known as morphogenesis – on 3D surfaces, analysing tissues like a surveyor might look at the terrain during an earthquake. Here a virtual map has been draped over the green-coloured cells in a tomato root. It highlights growing cells (red, yellow) and shrinking ones (blue), with white lines indicating the direction of these changes. Developing human tissues can be trickier to observe than plant tissues, but the race is on to catch up. Combining biological models like organoids, with 3D imaging techniques like light sheet microscopy may allow researchers to follow morphogenesis during human development, improving the picture of how our early lives are shaped.

Written by John Ankers

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BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC Laboratory of Medical Sciences until Jul 2023, it is now run independently by a dedicated team of scientists and writers. The website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biology, and its influence on medicine. The ever-growing archive of more than 4000 research images documents over a decade of progress. Explore the collection and see what you discover. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.

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