The best part of being a biologist is working with living organisms. And the worst part of being a biologist is working with living organisms, especially when you want them to reproduce on a particular schedule.
While teaching about induction of germ layers and the symmetry breaking events associated with axis formation and gastrulation, I thought it would be fun to repeat some classic developmental biology experiments to illustrate the power of induction. The idea is to transplant the dorsal blastopore lip of one frog embryo into the blastocoel space of another embryo. Eventually, the plan is to do this with fluorescent donors and non-fluorescent hosts, but not this year….This year we were lucky to actually get embryos to work with. After some serious Xenopus wrangling that included injecting frogs with HCG, squeezing eggs from the females, doing a number of failed in vitro fertilizations and setting up several pairs of natural matings and not getting many fertilized or usable embryos, we turned to the local Xenopus expert (thank you Mike Danilchick!) and managed to get a few embryos all at the right stage and practice our fine microsurgical technique. This lab is clearly still a work in progress, but check out some of my results. Amazing what a tiny piece of tissue can do. Stay tuned for results from the entire class!