Biomedical Engineering Letters

, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 328–337 | Cite as

Automatic cell identification in the unique system of invariant embryogenesis in Caenorhabditis elegans

Review Article


In recent years, development of image processing methods has rapidly progressed to automatically identify spatiotemporal dynamics of embryonic cells in Caenorhabditis elegans. The methods allow quantitative and high-throughput analysis for molecular dynamics during embryogenesis. In turn, the analyzed dynamics can be merged onto a reference embryo, providing an integrated view of embryogenesis. This integration is enabled by invariant embryogenesis of C. elegans, which is the most unique advantage offered by this organism. Therefore, the key point in the development of the methods is how to take advantage of this feature. In this article, we review a series of development of such methods and their applications. First, we describe basic image processing methods that are the basis for development of cell identification methods. Next, we describe methods that have succeeded to identify cells in images and their performance. Finally, we review studies that have employed cell identification methods to analyze the variability of cellular dynamics, cellcell contacts and cell fate determination. Together with advances in imaging technologies to measure molecular dynamics and computational methods to identify such dynamics with high accuracy, the unique system of invariant embryogenesis in C. elegans will be invaluable to study developmental mechanisms. Therefore, it is important to understand the ever developing technologies and their results.


Bioimage informatics Image processing Cell tracking Caenorhabditis elegans 


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Copyright information

© Korean Society of Medical and Biological Engineering and Springer 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Laboratory for Developmental DynamicsRIKEN Quantitative Biology CenterKobeJapan
  2. 2.National Bioscience Database CenterJapan Science and Technology AgencyTokyoJapan

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