Quail as a model system
Professor Rusty Lansford explains that quail make a good model system because they are small, easy to grow in a laboratory, and develop quickly.
What makes a quail a good system and why my group does a lot of research in that is that we had the choice of a quail or a chicken, our two avian systems that have been studied for a very long time. Nicole Le Douarinâ€™s lab has done tissue transplants between quail and chicken to follow fates of different tissues. We chose a quail for our studies because they are small and so they are easy to grow in a laboratory versus a large chicken, which we would probably need a farm for. They are easier and cheaper to raise, and then they also develop quicker. They hatch in about 16-17 days versus a chicken, which is 20 to 21. They become sexually mature in 8 to 10 weeks versus a chicken, which is 5 to 6 months. So the turn over is much quicker.
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Professor Rusty Lansford discuss the attributes that make birds a good model system - we can see developmental events that are going on in an egg that cannot be seen in a mammal in utero.
Professor Rusty Lansford describes how researchers examine avian systems by opening an egg and dynamically imaging developmental events under a microscope.
Professor Rusty Lansford compares fluorescent microscopy, which images at the molecular level, and MRI, which images at the cellular/neural level.
Professor Rusty Lansford explains that modern imaging techniques use four dimensions - the x, y, and z spatial coordinates, as well as one other critical variable - time.
Professor Rusty Lansford explains that all genes are not expressed in the same levels in different cells; there is a lot of differential regulation.
Professor Rusty Lansford explains that dynamic imaging is important because it allows researchers to examine active development rather than interpreting a series of snapshots.
Some of the plants, animals, and microorganisms used by researchers as "model" biological systems.
Each model organism has its own advantages and disadvantages. Choosing an appropriate model depends on the question being asked. Many laboratories find it useful to perform parallel experiments in two or more model systems to understand different aspects
Professor David Van Vactor provides a simple explanation for why researchers work with model systems (model organisms).