Fate Mapping Simulation
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What is Fate Mapping?

Ancestry. Potential. Where do cells in adult animals come from in the embryo? Do all cells in the embryo can give rise to all cells in the adult animal? By labeling and then following the lineage of embryonic cells into the adult organism, scientist can determine to what extent cells contribute to one, two or multiple organs. By repeating the experiment at different times during embryonic development, scientist can determine when cells that contributed to multiple organs start losing this capacity, contributing to less and less tissues. By projecting the identities of adult cells into embryonic tissues, scientist generate a map of cellular fates; the potential of embryonic cells to give rise to adult tissues.
This is a fate map.

Background Information

Fate maps are the one of the oldest, least intrusive, and most valuable experimental approaches in developmental biology, as they provide information on the potential cells to contribute to tissues, organs, and systems of the body of an organism. The earliest fate maps were done over 100 years ago by following the distribution of black and yellow pigments naturally present in the fertilized eggs of several marine species (mollusks and echinoderms). Subsequently, methods were developed to follow the fate of cells in embryos lacking pigments. One of these first experiments was done in amphibian embryos using the vital dye markers (e. g., Carbon particles, Nile blue, Carmine red). More information on fate maps can be found here.

Modern Fate Mapping Processes

Modern fate-mapping techniques utilize genetic tricks to permanently label cells. Because of their permanent nature, genetic labeling approaches are far superior than labeling cells with vital dyes that bleach, bleed, or get diluted and lost as cells divide. The brainbow method to label cells with different fluorescent proteins not only allows labeling multiple cells with different colors simultaneously, but it is also esthetically pleasing.


Frog Embryo
Sea Squirt Embryo
Zebrafish Embryo


Development Team

Reid Smith

Ahmed Salih

Eleni Houvarda

Fardeen Khan

Kathryn Orlosky

Matthew Vorster

Patrick Fang

Pranav Arora

Raleigh Mann

Sanjana Gollu

Virginia Robertson

Dr. Isaac Skromne

Dr. Isaac Skromne is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of Richmond, in Richmond, VA, USA, and is responsible for the conception of this project. For more information about this resource and to obtain additional information and materials, please contact Dr. Skromne using the form below, via email at iskromne@richmond.edu or through his website.

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