Magic embryology: embryo cells have specific instructions (Introduction)

by David Turell @, Monday, April 12, 2021, 19:07 (485 days ago) @ David Turell

This is what happens when you grow a few of them of one type:

"Using blobs of skin cells from frog embryos, scientists have grown creatures unlike anything else on Earth, a new study reports. These microscopic “living machines” can swim, sweep up debris and heal themselves after a gash.


"Scientists removed small clumps of skin stem cells from frog embryos, to see what these cells would do on their own. Separated from their usual spots in a growing frog embryo, the cells organized themselves into balls and grew. About three days later, the clusters, called xenobots, began to swim.

"Normally, hairlike structures called cilia on frog skin repel pathogens and spread mucus around. But on the xenobots, cilia allowed them to motor around. That surprising development “is a great example of life reusing what’s at hand,” says study coauthor Michael Levin, a biologist at Tufts University in Medford, Mass.


"Xenobots have no nerve cells and no brains. Yet xenobots — each about half a millimeter wide — can swim through very thin tubes and traverse curvy mazes. When put into an arena littered with small particles of iron oxide, the xenobots can sweep the debris into piles. Xenobots can even heal themselves; after being cut, the bots zipper themselves back into their spherical shapes.

"Scientists are still working out the basics of xenobot life. The creatures can live for about 10 days without food. When fed sugar, xenobots can live longer (though they don’t keep growing). “We’ve grown them for over four months in the lab,” says study coauthor Doug Blackiston, also at Tufts. “They do really interesting things if you grow them,” including forming strange balloon-like shapes."

Comment: This is not puzzling to me. Teh clumps of skin cells are simply following the instructions they have in their DNA.

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