Dynamics of a Volvox Embryo Turning Itself Inside Out

Deformations of cell sheets are ubiquitous in early animal development, often arising from a complex and poorly understood interplay of cell shape changes, division, and migration. Here, we explore perhaps the simplest example of cell sheet folding: the “inversion” process of the algal genus Volvox, during which spherical embryos turn themselves inside out through a process hypothesized to arise from cell shape changes alone. We use light sheet microscopy to obtain the first three-dimensional visualizations of inversion in vivo, and develop the first theory of this process, in which cell shape changes appear as local variations of intrinsic curvature, contraction and stretching of an elastic shell. Our results support a scenario in which these active processes function in a defined spatiotemporal manner to enable inversion. Edited from: Dynamics of a Volvox Embryo Turning Itself Inside Out and The New York Times

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