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Worm Studies on Embryo Formation
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Worm Studies on Embryo Formation

July 26, 2010
Networks of functionally linked genes and proteins (shown as interconnected nodes in bottom panel) coordinate early embryo development in the roundworm C. elegans (bottom right). The top panel depicts the first two cell divisions of the C. elegans embryo. Individual groups or clusters of molecules that work together--dubbed "molecular machines" by the researchers--operate at specific times in development. Colored nodes in the bottom panel show an artist's conception of active regions in the network during these early stages.

How does a multi-cellular organism with specialized organs and tissues develop from a single cell? A team of genomics researchers has moved closer to answering this question by creating the first comprehensive diagram of the molecular interactions that orchestrate early embryo development. The National Science Foundation (NSF) supported two members of the research team, one of which received an NSF ADVANCE (Increasing the Participation and Advancement of Women in Academic Science and Engineering Careers) fellows award--a program to increase representation and advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers.