A zebrafish embryo


A world of detail in an embryo less than a day old.


A zebrafish embryo.
A zebrafish embryo.
Philipp Keller, Bill Lemon, Yinan Wan and Kristin Branson / Howard Hughes Medical Institute

The image above shows a live zebrafish embryo only 22 hours after fertilisation. Taken using a technique called light sheet microscopy that uses a narrow plane of laser light to illuminate a sample sliver by sliver, the image reveals the early morphogenetic development of the embryo at the level of single cells.

The nuclei of the embryo’s cells were labelled with fluorescent markers and the different colours show here encode depth.

By the time the embryo reaches 36 hours of age, all of the major organs will have started to form. The zebrafish's rapid growth and see-through embryo make it ideal for scientists studying how organs develop.

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