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Nat Rev Genet. 2009 Aug;10(8):517-30. doi: 10.1038/nrg2548.

Quantitative approaches in developmental biology.

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Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, D-01307 Dresden, Germany.


The tissues of a developing embryo are simultaneously patterned, moved and differentiated according to an exchange of information between their constituent cells. We argue that these complex self-organizing phenomena can only be fully understood with quantitative mathematical frameworks that allow specific hypotheses to be formulated and tested. The quantitative and dynamic imaging of growing embryos at the molecular, cellular and tissue level is the key experimental advance required to achieve this interaction between theory and experiment. Here we describe how mathematical modelling has become an invaluable method to integrate quantitative biological information across temporal and spatial scales, serving to connect the activity of regulatory molecules with the morphological development of organisms.

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