Posted by: yashada | August 31, 2008

These are pictures of a practical we did in our lab. It’s a fairly basic experiment where you try to track the movement of cells in a developing embryo.

During the developmental stages of an animal, there comes a stage when there is a mass migration of cells, called gastrulation. So a number of cells move from one place to another. This movement can be tracked by using non-toxic dyes.

In our practical we used chick embryos. A small window is made with a blade on the egg shell. The dye (which is jelly like, since its made in agar) is placed on any portion of the embryo and the window is sealed. The egg is incubated for about 24 hours. The next day the window is opened and the embryo with the yolk sac is removed out carefully. A diff rent portion of the embryo takes up the dye colour if the cells have moved. 

 Remember that all these things must be done in sterile conditions, that there shouldn’t be any contamination. This is because for the cells to take in the dye and start moving, the embryo must be alive.

The egg that I got was around 24 hours old. I placed the dye at the head and the cells near the somites (which later form the muscles of the back, and some other organs near the back) had taken up the colour the next day.

Developmental Biology is something we learnt in our third year Bachelor studies. This practical is for our Masters. (This is not the time or place to talk about our pathetic syllabus, so I shall refrain from a lot of ‘%^%$&%^*% ‘, for now). But it was incredible to actually see it happen, it was a moment of realisation of the fact that all that you have been studying is for ‘real’. All those boring tedious diagrams suddenly were alive in my head. 

 This was one of those times when the stuff you read in your text book that seemed dry and boring at the time simply turns into a fascinating new discovery, on a personal level, and you can’t help yourself but fall in love with it.

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