the community site for and by developmental biologists

Imaging stem cells in the Drosophila ovary

Posted by on May 12th, 2011

To accompany our paper “Long-term live imaging provides new insight into stem cell regulation and germline-soma coordination in the Drosophila ovary” I have been asked by staff at the Node to discuss the path we took when developing a successful imaging protocol. Germline follicle formation in the Drosophila ovary is a very dynamic process –[…]

When F-actin dynamics and Hippo signalling activity meet to regulate tissue growth.

Posted by on May 11th, 2011

Genetic screens in flies brought me by chance to have a look at one of the basic apparatus of the cell: the actin cytoskeleton. At that time, I remembered my cell biology courses at University and since the actin cytoskeleton was not one of the hot spot, I though it was just a machinery required[…]

Interview with Beddington Medal winner Carlos Carmona-Fontaine

Posted by on May 11th, 2011

Each year, the British Society for Developmental Biology awards the Beddington Medal for the best PhD thesis in developmental biology. At the 2011 BSDB meeting, this award went to Carlos Carmona-Fontaine, who completed his PhD in Roberto Mayor’s lab at UCL. Now a postdoc at Sloan-Kettering Institute in New York, Carlos returned to the UK[…]

In Development this week (Vol. 138, Issue 11)

Posted by on May 10th, 2011

Here are the highlights from the current issue of Development: Dronc regulates Numb and neuroblast formation The ability of stem cells to maintain a balance between self-renewal and differentiation is crucial for development and tissue homeostasis. In Drosophila neuroblasts, the tumour suppressor Numb restricts proliferation and self-renewal in differentiating daughter cells but how its activity[…]

Zinc Finger Nucleases targeting genes in a frog near you!

Posted by on May 9th, 2011

Loss-of-function studies in Xenopus have been, until recently, limited to transient knockdowns by injection of morpholino antisense oligonucleotides.  In part because of X. laevis’ complex allotetraploid genome, the system lacked techniques for targeted gene disruption.  In recent years the use of the closely related Xenopus tropicalis, a true diploid with one of the smallest tetrapod[…]

The story behind the screen – flashbacks from the first RNAi screen in a whole vertebrate

Posted by on May 9th, 2011

The story of our recently released Development paper ‘FatJ acts via the Hippo mediator Yap1 to restrict the size of neural progenitor cell pools’ ( involves hundreds of dozens of fresh free-range eggs and not trivial amounts of time spent peering down a microscope. I have written this with Nick van Hateren, who is the joint first author of this paper along with me.

6th International Chick Conference

Posted by on May 6th, 2011

Can I just bring to eveyone’s attention that the 6th International Chick Conference is now to be held at The Roslin Insititute, UK. Sept 17-20, 2011. This forum often attracts a strong developmental biology contingent and we anticipate the 2011 conference will include many relevant themes (e.g Morphogenesis; Organogenesis; Patterning, Cell Fates and Organizers; Genetic[…]

Healing an injured heart

Posted by on May 5th, 2011

Regenerative medicine and stem cell research go hand-in-hand when it comes to dreaming up future strategies for treating disease and injury in humans.  Today’s image is from a recent Development paper discussing how damaged heart tissue regenerates in zebrafish, and serves as a great model for devising strategies to help human heart attack patients. When[…]

Map of Life: A guide to convergent evolution

Posted by on May 4th, 2011

The Map of Life is a recently published guide to convergent evolution produced by the University of Cambridge that has been touring science festivals and events across the world. It contains hundreds of article about structures and adaptations that have evolved independently in unrelated organisms such as camera eyes in jellyfish and snails to gliding[…]

March of Dimes Prize Announced

Posted by on May 4th, 2011

The March of Dimes Prize in Developmental Biology was jointly awarded this April to David Page, Director of the Whitehead Institute, and Patricia Ann Jacobs, professor of human genetics at Southampton University Medical School and co-director of research at the Wessex Regional Genetics Laboratory. Both Page and Jacobs specialize in research on human sex chromosomes[…]