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This tangle is the result of an elaborate research project: scientists at the University of Utah wanted to know which stem cells stem from the various brain regions of the adult fruit fly (Drosophila). For this they first collected several thousand Drosophila larvae and provided any stem cell in the brain of each larva with a fluorescent marker. This resulted in a larval population in which each of the approximately 100 different neuronal stem cells was labeled at least once by applying the random principle. The brain of the adult fruit flies then examined the researchers under a confocal microscope, which takes several snapshots of different areas and thus allows more precise recordings of marked areas. The part of the brain that was derived from each labeled stem cell fluoresced under the microscope. Every single brain was photographed and the luminous areas digitally stained. By overlaying and combining the many thousands of photos, the scientists created a three-dimensional, color-coded map (pictured). Neurons that are offspring of the same stem cell received the same color coding. In addition to the organizational structure, the scientists also created a nomenclature for the neurons of the Drosophila brain. The next step is to explore the functions of each region.

Photo: Yong Wan, Charles Hansen and Chris R. Johnson, University of Utah

© - Ruth Roebuck
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