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Quantitative imaging strategies pave the way for testable biological concepts.

Hamant O - BMC Biol. (2011)

Bottom Line: In developmental biology, the accumulation of qualitative phenotypic descriptions has fueled the need for testable parsimonious hypotheses, giving a fresh impetus to quantitative strategies.As an illustration, thanks to the precise quantification of cell growth and microtubule behavior in a study published in BMC Plant Biology, Zhang and collaborators have identified sequential phases of polarized and isotropic growth in puzzle-shaped leaf epidermal cells, thus providing new clues to explore how growth coordination occurs in this tissue.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Laboratoire Reproduction et Développement des Plantes/Laboratoire Joliot Curie, INRA, CNRS, ENS, Université de Lyon, 46 Allée d'Italie, 69364 Lyon Cedex 07, France. olivier.hamant@ens-lyon.fr

ABSTRACT
In developmental biology, the accumulation of qualitative phenotypic descriptions has fueled the need for testable parsimonious hypotheses, giving a fresh impetus to quantitative strategies. As an illustration, thanks to the precise quantification of cell growth and microtubule behavior in a study published in BMC Plant Biology, Zhang and collaborators have identified sequential phases of polarized and isotropic growth in puzzle-shaped leaf epidermal cells, thus providing new clues to explore how growth coordination occurs in this tissue.

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Beyond qualitative imaging. In Paul Cézanne's 'La mer à l'Estaque', trees can easily be recognized in the foreground. Nevertheless, a closer look reveals that the dimensions and geometry of the branches are not realistic at all, illustrating the relative weakness of the human eye and how a qualitative observation can lead to misleading conclusions. Reproduced with permission from Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris, France.
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Figure 1: Beyond qualitative imaging. In Paul Cézanne's 'La mer à l'Estaque', trees can easily be recognized in the foreground. Nevertheless, a closer look reveals that the dimensions and geometry of the branches are not realistic at all, illustrating the relative weakness of the human eye and how a qualitative observation can lead to misleading conclusions. Reproduced with permission from Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris, France.

Mentions: The qualitative description of developmental mutants has produced many famous theoretical biological concepts, but this approach reaches its limits when formally trying to establish links of causality between molecular networks and multicellular shape. In particular, there is an obvious discrepancy between the single-cell genetic input and the multicellular geometrical output. To bridge this gap, and prove that an intuition is plausible, a mathematical proof, usually in the form of computer simulations, becomes necessary. In this framework, an observation must be quantitative enough to be transposed into an algorithm. Conversely, to know whether a mathematical model is plausible, it must be validated experimentally, and this validation requires quantification of the observations [1] (Figure 1). Quantitative approaches have thus flourished in recent years, and they not only refine previous predictions but also generate novel hypotheses. The recent study by Zhang et al. in BMC Plant Biology [2] illustrates this nicely.


Quantitative imaging strategies pave the way for testable biological concepts.

Hamant O - BMC Biol. (2011)

Beyond qualitative imaging. In Paul Cézanne's 'La mer à l'Estaque', trees can easily be recognized in the foreground. Nevertheless, a closer look reveals that the dimensions and geometry of the branches are not realistic at all, illustrating the relative weakness of the human eye and how a qualitative observation can lead to misleading conclusions. Reproduced with permission from Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris, France.
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC3045392&req=5

Figure 1: Beyond qualitative imaging. In Paul Cézanne's 'La mer à l'Estaque', trees can easily be recognized in the foreground. Nevertheless, a closer look reveals that the dimensions and geometry of the branches are not realistic at all, illustrating the relative weakness of the human eye and how a qualitative observation can lead to misleading conclusions. Reproduced with permission from Réunion des Musées Nationaux, Paris, France.
Mentions: The qualitative description of developmental mutants has produced many famous theoretical biological concepts, but this approach reaches its limits when formally trying to establish links of causality between molecular networks and multicellular shape. In particular, there is an obvious discrepancy between the single-cell genetic input and the multicellular geometrical output. To bridge this gap, and prove that an intuition is plausible, a mathematical proof, usually in the form of computer simulations, becomes necessary. In this framework, an observation must be quantitative enough to be transposed into an algorithm. Conversely, to know whether a mathematical model is plausible, it must be validated experimentally, and this validation requires quantification of the observations [1] (Figure 1). Quantitative approaches have thus flourished in recent years, and they not only refine previous predictions but also generate novel hypotheses. The recent study by Zhang et al. in BMC Plant Biology [2] illustrates this nicely.

Bottom Line: In developmental biology, the accumulation of qualitative phenotypic descriptions has fueled the need for testable parsimonious hypotheses, giving a fresh impetus to quantitative strategies.As an illustration, thanks to the precise quantification of cell growth and microtubule behavior in a study published in BMC Plant Biology, Zhang and collaborators have identified sequential phases of polarized and isotropic growth in puzzle-shaped leaf epidermal cells, thus providing new clues to explore how growth coordination occurs in this tissue.

View Article: PubMed Central - HTML - PubMed

Affiliation: Laboratoire Reproduction et Développement des Plantes/Laboratoire Joliot Curie, INRA, CNRS, ENS, Université de Lyon, 46 Allée d'Italie, 69364 Lyon Cedex 07, France. olivier.hamant@ens-lyon.fr

ABSTRACT
In developmental biology, the accumulation of qualitative phenotypic descriptions has fueled the need for testable parsimonious hypotheses, giving a fresh impetus to quantitative strategies. As an illustration, thanks to the precise quantification of cell growth and microtubule behavior in a study published in BMC Plant Biology, Zhang and collaborators have identified sequential phases of polarized and isotropic growth in puzzle-shaped leaf epidermal cells, thus providing new clues to explore how growth coordination occurs in this tissue.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus