Final Report Summary - HOURGLASS (Quantitative Analysis of the Hourglass Model of Evolution of Development.)
During the course of the hourglass project we have provided several lines of evidence suggesting that the gene regulatory networks governing early development diverge between species to a larger extent compared with mid-embryogenesis, lending molecular evidence in support of the hourglass model of morphological evolution. We have developed several innovative technologies to study spatial and temporal patterns of gene expression in living embryos by imaging. We employed the emerging light sheet microscopy imaging paradigm to image gene expression regulation throughout Drosophila embryonic development. In order to visualize gene expression pattern on the protein level we have developed reverse genetic technology allowing us to mark with a fluorescent protein any arbitrary gene in the Drosophila genome. We have also pushed forward computational analysis of Big Image Data emerging from modern microscopes. We collected all our advanced image analysis solutions under a single open source platform called Fiji that in the course of the project became very popular in the biology community gaining tens of thousands users. In general, our project put strong emphasis on open access science. We made available to our fellow researchers reagents; hardware (OpenSPIM microscopes) and software (Fiji) and thus our research had and will continue to have strong impact on the research community.