This video shows a zebrafish embryo as it develops an elaborate network of neurons, the sensory nervous system, which will allow it to make sense of the world around it. Sights, smells and tastes are detected by receptors then encoded into electronic signals that are transmitted along the wire-like axons of sensory neurons. Captured here, developing axons are sprouting upwards, away from the circular cell body of each neuron. The axons form an elaborate, spider-web like network. Sixteen hours of time-lapse footage were sped-up to form this short clip. It was captured with an unconventional microscope technique that allowed the embryo to grow in water, its natural environment. This was more challenging than standard techniques that typically hold specimens in place during filming. Such high-quality footage helps researchers to investigate how healthy neurons develop and what might go wrong in neurodegenerative diseases.
Written by Deborah Oakley
- Video by E Haynes, of the Halloran lab, University of Wisconsin-Madison, and J.He of the Huisken lab at Morgridge Institute for Research
- Winner of the Nikon Small World in Motion competition
- Video/image copyright held by the creators
- University of Wisconsin – Madison Department of Integrative Biology & Morgridge Institute for Research Madison, Wisconsin, USA