Recent research published in European Physical Journal E reveals that the transformation of an embryonic cell cluster into an animal within the first 36 h can be better understood by the law of hydrodynamics.
On studying early-stage embryonic development, Paris Diderot University researcher Vincent Fleury found that embryonic cells first form a horizontal sheet before assuming a U-shape. He demonstrated that a chicken head is formed when both sides of the embryo flowing at constant speed towards each other have a collision.
For the first time, time-lapse microscopy was used to film precise observations of chicken embryo evolution during the first two days of development. Compared with complex imaging techniques that are expensive and not very accurate, direct filming is a simpler option. The study involved embryo shell removal, followed by yolk removal, and maintenance under appropriate temperature conditions.
Although each cell was individually studied during previous developmental studies, the embryo was considered as a whole for this study. In the study, the speed of all points of the embryo and its viscoelasticity were measured in vivo. The authors replicated the growing embryo’s movement and created a model by clubbing this information with the biological parameters of the embryo, such as cells’ viscosity, thickness, and overall size.
His discovery revealed that the mathematical formula used for magnetic fields could also be considered for model fields of vectors that represent the hydrodynamic flow of embryonic cells. The head was formed because of a collision between two sides that caused the embryonic cells to be subjected to forces similar to those of two magnets oriented head on.
According to the findings, just a mere series of distinct events initiated by genetic switches does not result in head formation. The results challenge the previous theory which hypothesizes that chemical gradients are the existing forces responsible for cell movement in early embryo formation. The study opens new avenues for vertebrate development, thus assisting the scientists studying regenerative medicine.