Acquisition and reconstruction of 4D surfaces of axolotl embryos with the flipping stage robotic microscope


  • S.J. Crawford-Young
  • S. Dittapongpitch
  • R. Gordon
  • K.I.S. Harrington


  • Biosystems


  • BioSystems 173: 214-220


  • We have designed and constructed a Flipping Stage for a light microscope that can view the whole exterior surface of a 2 mm diameter developing axolotl salamander embryo. It works by rapidly inverting the bottom-heavy embryo, imaging it as it rights itself. The images are then montaged to reconstruct the whole 3D surface versus time, for a full 4D record of the surface. Imaging early stage axolotl development will help discover how cell differentiation and movement takes place in the early embryo. For example, the switch from ectodermal to neural plate cells takes place on the top, animal surface portion the egg/embryo and can be observed using the flipping stage microscope. Detailed pictures of the whole surface need to be obtained so that cell tracking and event histories, such as cell divisions and participation in differentiation waves, of individual cells can be recorded. Imaging the whole exterior of the eggs/embryos will allow for the analysis of cell behavior and the forces the cells experience in their natural setting in the intact or manipulated embryo. This will give insights into embryogenesis, development, developmental disruptions, birth defects, cell differentiation and tissue engineering.