SITE VISIT: A Peek at Development

Science  05 May 2000:
Vol. 288, Issue 5467, pp. 767
DOI: 10.1126/science.288.5467.767d

Developmental biologists like to begin at the beginning, focusing their work on the earliest steps in an organism's winding path from single-celled blob to fully formed adult. But the developing embryo can be a bear to study, requiring sharp eyes, powerful optics, and a ready supply of subjects. Luckily, armchair biologists desiring a glimpse of creation—and students needing some help understanding exactly what they saw under that microscope—can turn to Bill Wasserman's Developmental Biology Web Page.

The Loyola University Chicago biologist has laid out a tantalizing spread on this three-pronged site. One button leads to a long list of developmental biology Web resources organized by organism, from Arabidopsis to zebrafish. Another links to key journals. But the most popular destination is bound to be Wasserman's collection of nearly 70 movies, animations, and pictures. The squeamish might stick to the nicely rendered animations that illustrate the difference between radial and spiral cleavage in embryos, or a color film of a “calcium wave” sweeping across a newly fertilized urchin egg. Braver surfers can watch an amputated newt leg regenerate in time-lapse photos, or a mammalian eye develop in animation. And don't miss animated illustrations that compare the techniques used to clone frogs, sheep, and mice.

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