Embryomics is devoted to the morphodynamical "reconstruction" of the cell lineage tree underlying the processes of animal embryogenesis. We will design a set of strategies, methods and algorithms to "sequence" the cell lineage tree as a branching process a nnotated in space and time. We view this highly interdisciplinary project as the foundation of a new scientific field that we call Embryomics with a reference to Genomics. In the same sense as Genomics, Embryomics is both a scientific field and a technolog y to gather data with a lot of potential applications. But the Embryomics data is much more 'complex' than a mere DNA sequence as it does not appear as a linear static information in one dimension but as a branching dynamical process displayed in space and time. To deal with this information, we undertake a highly novel and most promising approach based on the strategies of the mammalian visual system. Our goal is to fully reconstruct the dynamics of cell divisions and movements from time-lapse series of hi gh-resolution optical sections obtained by multiphoton laser scanning microscopy throughout embryonic development of live animals. Embryomics will allow the automated tracking of events such as cell division and cell death in live embryos and give us acces s to parameters such as the rate of cell proliferation in time and space. This kind of data is highly relevant to investigate stem cell populations, early steps of cancerogenesis and drug effects in vivo. The post-genomic era needs such a systematic approa ch at the level of the cellular organization to achieve an integrated understanding of biological processes. In addition, through the investigation of four different organisms with key phylogenetic positions, we aim at promoting the use of non-mammalian an imal models. A comparative Embryomics strategy is the best way to evaluate the relevance of animal models, whatever their evolutionary distance to human, for further medical applications.
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Funding SchemeSTREP - Specific Targeted Research Project