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Annu Rev Biomed Eng. 2016 Jul 11;18:285-309. doi: 10.1146/annurev-bioeng-100515-013926. Epub 2016 Feb 29.

Microfluidics for High-Throughput Quantitative Studies of Early Development.

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School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia 30332; email:
Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering and Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey 08544; email:


Developmental biology has traditionally relied on qualitative analyses; recently, however, as in other fields of biology, researchers have become increasingly interested in acquiring quantitative knowledge about embryogenesis. Advances in fluorescence microscopy are enabling high-content imaging in live specimens. At the same time, microfluidics and automation technologies are increasing experimental throughput for studies of multicellular models of development. Furthermore, computer vision methods for processing and analyzing bioimage data are now leading the way toward quantitative biology. Here, we review advances in the areas of fluorescence microscopy, microfluidics, and data analysis that are instrumental to performing high-content, high-throughput studies in biology and specifically in development. We discuss a case study of how these techniques have allowed quantitative analysis and modeling of pattern formation in the Drosophila embryo.


automation; computer vision; developmental biology; fluorescence microscopy; modeling; quantitative biology

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