Science friction

Force as well as biochemistry plays a role in embryo development, reports Andrew Masterson.

A dorsal section through a zebrafish embryo.
IST Austria

Genetics and biochemistry play major roles in embryo development, but now researchers at the Institute of Science and Technology in Austria have identified a third, much less subtle, player in the process: friction.

The scientists, led by Carl-Philipp Heisenberg, studied mechanics at work in the development of zebra fish embryos. The team discovered that the force arising from friction between moving tissues plays a key role in the formation of the nervous system.

The study is published in Nature Cell Biology.

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