PerspectiveDevelopment

The 200-year effort to see the embryo

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Science  23 Aug 2019:
Vol. 365, Issue 6455, pp. 758-759
DOI: 10.1126/science.aaw7565

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Summary

The year 2018 was a watershed moment for the science of embryos. Building on the recent development of single-cell transcriptomic approaches, time-resolved, single-cell atlases of gene expression in an array of developing embryos were reported (1). Unleashing the full power of these datasets will require precise and dynamic registration of gene expression changes with the constant changes in each cell's position in the embryo. It is therefore important that emerging methods are also allowing the visualization of embryonic morphogenesis with unprecedented accuracy. 2018 saw the report of continuous imaging of the entire mouse embryo at single-cell resolution over multiple days of early development (2). Given these advances, it is compelling to consider the more abstract question of what it means to really “see” the developing embryo.

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