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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Evaluating facial ontogeny of avian embryos using 3D geometric morphometrics Woo, Johnathan


Objectives: In order to study abnormal facial development, reference standards of normal development are required. It is challenging to obtain 3D data on early embryos, since they are comprised of non-differentiated tissue. We used optical projection tomography (OPT) (Bioptonics, UK), which images transparent specimens with UV light. Here we used carefully staged chicken embryos to measure facial morphogenesis over time. Methods: Chicken eggs (n=32) were incubated for 3.5-6 days (stage 20, 24, 28, 29). Embryo heads were fixed in formaldehyde, embedded in agarose, dehydrated in methanol, and then cleared in Benzyl Alcohol Benzyl Benzoate. Embryos were scanned with the OPT, images were reconstructed, and then the head was digitally resliced in the frontal plane using NRecon and CTan. Resliced files were imported into Amira, facial prominences were outlined, and isosurfaces were created. Volumetric measurements were assessed using Amira. Landmarks were applied to the surface of each prominence using Landmark. These landmarks were then superimposed from different embryos using MorphoJ, whereby they underwent Procrustes superimposition, Principal Component Analysis, Canonical Variate Analysis, and Discriminant Function Analysis. Results: Traditional morphometrics revealed that the greatest amount of growth was a 24-fold difference in volume of the lateral nasal prominence between stages 20 and 29, followed by the maxillary, mandibular, and frontonasal mass. Geometric morphometrics revealed that embryonic facial prominences had minimal changes in shape between stages 20 and 24, however, after this time, there was more separation of the data in morphospace. Strikingly, the greatest morphological change was between stages 28 and 29, which was only 12 hours apart. This rapid change suggests that other mechanisms in addition to cell proliferation are involved. In addition, the data show that major morphological changes precede lip fusion. Therefore, we can pinpoint our studies to stage 28, when critical events in the mesenchyme are taking place. Conclusion: Embryonic chicken facial prominences undergo major shape changes. Each prominence varies in morphology with respective stage, with the frontonasal mass and mandibular prominence having the most dynamic shape changes.

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