The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 50: 315 - 322 (2006)

Vol 50, Issue 2-3

Special Issue: Developmental Morphodynamics

The natural variability of morphogenesis: a tool for exploring the mechanics of gastrulation movements in amphibian embryos

Open Access | Published: 15 February 2006

Victoria A. Scobeyeva*

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


The investigation of natural variability of metric morphological characters in frog gastrulation revealed that in genetically and environmentally homogeneous samples of embryos their variability is of a higher order of magnitude than that known for quantitative metric characters in adult organisms. Matching the coefficients of variation of characters under consideration to the specific rates of their changes in normal development revealed a strong positive correlation between the rates of morphological change and the amount of morphological variance. The increase in the variance is mainly in characters concerned with shaping of moving embryonic areas and arises as a result of a positive feedback between the movement of a given area and recruitment of cells from surrounding areas into the movement. The account of natural variation suggests a new model of amphibian gastrulation whose essential feature is the intimate connection between the movement and shaping of the dorsal blastopore lip of the gastrula.


morphogenesis, variability, gastrulation, amphibian

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