Complex force fields exist in an embryo
During the past years, substantial insight has been accumulated on the role of mechanical forces that act during morphogenetic processes and it is by no means an exaggeration to state that, at the turn of the 21st century, Developmental Biology has entered a new era. Indeed, accumulating evidence suggests that during early animal development - associated with dramatic cell movements and tissue rearrangements - complex force fields exist in the embryo that have essential functions during the 3D shaping of the organism. Identifying and characterizing such forces will become a major challenge for the future. Such is the scientific objective of Prof. Takeo Matsumoto. Together with his research team, he aims at analyzing and measuring mechanical forces during vertebrate development, as a decisive step towards a full appreciation of their physiological role.
Now, characterizing such scientific endeavor as “heroic” seems quite exaggerated and, as a matter of fact, it probably is. But not very much. It might even be a close call, given the immense task to accomplish: “How can one look inside an embryo and identify all physical forces associated with complex tissue deformations at a given embryological stage?” To that end, the team of Prof. Matsumoto has been developing a method that actually enables them to visualize the mechanical stress and strain distribution inside the embryo.