Frog Face: Never-Before-Seen Bioelectric Pattern

How do faces and more importantly, brains develop? 

Science Daily reported that researchers at Tuft University have released never before seen patterns of bioelectrical signals outlining where eyes, nose, mouth, and other features will appear in an embryonic tadpole.

When stained with dye, hyperpolarized (negatively charged) areas shine brightly and others remain darker.  The Tufts scientists discovered that in the pre-stages of face development bioelectrical signals (ion flux) cause groups of cells to form patterns marked by different membrane voltage and pH levels.

Dany S. Adams, senior author of the study, states, “We believe this is the first time such patterning has been reported for an entire structure, not just for a single organ.  I would never have predicted anything like it.  It’s a jaw dropper.”

Newswise has also commented on this but have the accompanying video that depicts this amazing process (se below).   Bioelectrical signaling appears to regulate a sequence of events, not just one,” Laura Vandenberg, a Tuft’s Post Doctorial Associate and first author of the study noted, “Developmental biologists are used to thinking of sequences in which a gene produces a protein product that in turn ultimately leads to development of an eye or mouth.  But our work suggests that something else – a bioelectrical signal is required before that can happen.”

The team also found that disrupting this bioelectrical signal correlated with cranial abnormalities such as two brains, a thickened optic nerve or abnormal nasal and jaw development.  Adams and Vandenberg note that more research is needed to discover if this phenomenon works the same in other animals, including humans.

For more information and to view the full study click here.

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One response to “Frog Face: Never-Before-Seen Bioelectric Pattern”

  1. Keith D. says:

    This is really cool! I’ve been reading a tiny bit about this kind of research since earlier this year, but this is the closest I’ve ever witnessed any actual evidence so far.

    This video from Tufts University has the same clip above, but includes some commentary by two researchers.

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