Avian model systems
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.
A bird is a good model organism because we can watch the embryo develop. That means that we can see events that are going on inside quail or a chicken that you wouldnâ€™t be able to see going on in a mammal because it is in utero. What we often do is, we will look at the embryo dynamically, using some microscopy tricks, or we can do tissue transplants. We can control in time and in space what weâ€™re trying to watch. If we want to watch a heart develop, we can watch a heart develop and we can do tissue transplants likewise in the nervous system.
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Professor Rusty Lansford explains that quail make a good model system because they are small, easy to grow in a laboratory, and develop quickly.
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 dynamic imaging is important because it allows researchers to examine active development rather than interpreting a series of snapshots.
The domesticated chicken is a modern descendant of dinosaurs. It is the premier non-mammalian model organism and provides a new perspective on vertebrate genome evolution.
Model organisms share with humans many key biochemical and physiological functions that have been conserved (maintained) by evolution.
Professor Rusty Lansford explains that all genes are not expressed in the same levels in different cells; there is a lot of differential regulation.
Mice are small, easy to keep, and complete a generation in only ten weeks. They are also rather closely related to human beings.