Developmental biology is the science studying the process of growth and development of individuals. Its scope also extends to cover asexual reproduction, regeneration, metamorphosis and regeneration of stem cells. In animals this science studies the whole spectrum of development from gamete generation to death and includes fertilization, embryogenesis and aging.
Developmental Biology research are nowadays focusing on human development abnormalities, watching consequences of environment change on biodiversity and evolution, and livestock study for better food production.
In these studies and especially for environmental research insects are often taken as animal models. The larvae development and differentiation into adult insect are often taken as references. Moreover genomics at different scales are tools used in this science.
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Developmental biology science
Development of multicellular individuals goes through multiple stages from a fertilized cell.
At the early stage of embryonic development, spermatozoon and ovum unite to form the first cell. This cell will rapidly divide into multiple blastocysts. These pluripotent stem cells will be submitted to regional specification. This is the process of the first cells organization as bulks or sheets. These first cells are all alike and their organization is led by transcription factors and transduction molecules. The units of cells formed during the latter will then rearrange the gastrula structure during gastrulation. The gastrula organizes cell layers into a sphere. The layers will further differentiate depending of the different functions and organs and their global localization in the organism. Therefore cells at the surface will be ectoderm while the one in the center will be mesoderm and the endoderm in between. For each of these cells, differentiation will lead to even more specialization to respond to every function the body needs. Morphogenesis accompanies this specialization by organizing further structure and interaction between the cells to form the different organs. This is made possible through the activity of adhesion molecules and proteases as well as growth factors and cytokine such as sclerostin for the communication between cells. Those proteins are especially involved in vasculogenesis, angiogenesis and hematopoiesis. Organs will eventually grow and shape through tissue growth to adopt their final configuration.
Metamorphosis is a part of developmental biology research concerned with the ability for some animals to change their structure and shape at a stage which cannot be considered as embryo anymore. It is the case for frogs or insects that first grow as tadpole or larvae respectively before reaching their adult shape.
Developmental biology is also referred in regeneration studies. In those cases the ability of organs to be recreated after an injury or a removal is observed. Stem cells are often recruited to replace the missing ones. This phenomenon is eased in organism and tissues having high rate of cells replacement.