The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 50: 157 - 168 (2006)

Vol 50, Issue 2-3

Special Issue: Developmental Morphodynamics

Geometry and mechanics of teleost gastrulation and the formation of primary embryonic axes

Open Access | Published: 15 February 2006

Elena M. Cherdantseva and Vladimir G. Cherdantsev*

Department of Biological Evolution, Faculty of Biology, Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia


Examination of normal shaping dynamics and immediate and long-term responses to blastoderm cutting in zebrafish and loach embryos prior to the onset of gastrulation and during the course of epiboly revealed that anteroposterior (AP) and dorsoventral (DV) polarity formation is connected with shaping of the blastoderm circumferential region, which stretches along and shrinks across its movement axes and originates the non-isotropic fields of tensile stresses. Based on data from cutting experiments and quantitative morphology, we reconstructed the movement-shaping patterns of epiboly and embryonic shield formation. We revealed that AP and DV axes originate as a mass cell movement subject to the movement-shaping equivalence principle, which means the spatial series of differently shaped areas corresponding to the time succession of the same area shaping. Maintenance of the main body axes in orthogonal orientation depends on the mechanical equilibrium principle allowing for converting shape asymmetry into that of tensile stresses and vice versa. The causal relationship between the main movement-shaping axes and that of embryonic polarity was proved in cutting experiments in which the DV axis direction was subject to rearrangement so as to adjust to the new direction of mass cell movement axes induced by healing the wound in the blastoderm circumferential region.


morphogenesis, gastrulation, axial pattern, tensile stress, zebrafish, loach

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