The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 47: 161 - 164 (2003)

Vol 47, Issue 2-3

Special Issue: Teaching Developmental Biology

The color purple: analyzing alkaline phosphatase expression in experimentally manipulated sea urchin embryos in an undergraduate developmental biology course

Published: 1 January 2003

Julie Drawbridge

Department of Biology, Rider University, Lawrenceville, New Jersey 08648, USA.


In these laboratory exercises, developed for a sophomore/junior-level undergraduate course in Developmental Biology, students explore the processes of differentiation and morphogenesis in sea urchin embryos by monitoring the spatio-temporal expression pattern of the endoderm marker, alkaline phosphatase. Once students have determined the normal alkaline phosphatase expression pattern, they are asked to treat sea urchin embryos in some way that perturbs normal morphogenesis. Their task is to discover whether the chosen treatment perturbs both morphogenesis and differentiation of the gut or only morphogenesis. The ease with which sea urchin embryos can be cultured and manipulated provide the Developmental Biology instructor with a powerful system for inviting students to explore questions regarding differentiation and morphogenesis.

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