The kaleidoscopic 3D computer model traces the movement of hundreds of thousands of cells.
The growth of an embryo from a single cell is an incredible process. The only problem is that it's almost impossible to observe, even using a high resolution microscope.
To solve this problem, scientists Fernando Amat, Philipp Keller and their colleagues at Janelia Farm, a Virginia research campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute in the US, have developed software that tracks every individual cell in a developing embryo.
The team ran data collected with a powerful, high-speed microscope through a computer program to map the fate of cells. For a fruit fly, 100,000 cells need to be tracked for thousands of points in time over a single day.
Using this program scientists can fast-forward and rewind the development of an embryo and see its growth in detail.
So far, this computer software has been used on fruit flies, zebra fish and mice.