D. Melanogaster Heart as a Model for Cell Specification and Morphogenesis

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Developmental abnormalities have been traced to several genetic deficiencies. In studying the cellular processes these genes influence, specification and morphogenesis are two key players. Specification is the process in which one functional cell commits to a biological path of differentiation. During morphogenesis, specified cells organize and form the shape of tissues and organs. The purpose of this study was to assess whether the embryonic heart of Drosophila melanogaster is a proficient model for studying specification and morphogenesis. Cellular specification can be observed within the embryonic heart as differentiated cardiac cells can be traced and identified in the mature heart tube.

Furthermore, morphogenesis is observed as migrating cell lines move toward the dorsal midline in real time. This study can be expounded upon in the future as established systems are set in place to investigate countless other genes that may cause specification or morphogenesis defects. Human homologues can then be found to these genes that are found to influence developmental pathways. Through this process, knowledge concerning human diseases can be understood and diagnosed.


As this research is intended for eventual publication, access to this file is restricted to current members of the Taylor community.

Faculty Sponsor: Dr. Jessica Vanderploeg

Department: Biology

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