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Embryo physics and evolution

MSC : Annemiek JM Cornelissen, Vincent Fleury.

The formation of vertebrate embryos is a physico-chemical process which transforms a disk or a sphere into a recognizable animal quite rapidly. Transforming a sphere into a vertebrate requires huge movements. And movements require forces. Embryo physics aims at understanding the force fields, their internal constraints, the physical balance of forces, the boundary conditions, the broken symmetries etc. which prevail during animal development. The aim is to separate whatever comes from very specific genetic mutations, and what can be ascribed to general laws of physics. In this field, it is of utmost importance to measure forces and movements. This field uses custom tools to assess morphogenetic movements and morphogenetic forces, such as air puff tonometry. These techniques allow one to visualize the dynamics of embryo development at very early stages.

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