How can a whole multicellular organism develop from a single cell? All the essential information on how this should happen is stored in its genome and epigenome. Thousands of genes are switched on and off in a precisely coordinated manner. This enables individual cells to specialise in particular tasks and to arrange themselves into tissues and organs in the right locations. The developmental process is also influenced by environmental factors, such as the availability of nutrients.
Scientists at EMBL investigate the processes associated with embryo and organism development. They try to understand how embryos transition from a ball of identical cells to structured organisms with highly specialised tissues. The influence of mechanical stimuli and environmental factors on development are also investigated. EMBL scientists try to understand how biological rhythms create waves of activity of genes or signalling molecules, which helps to establish regular structures and tells organs where to form. Alongside traditional lab methods, bioinformatics approaches are also used to explore the processes of development.
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