Developmental patterning deciphered in avian chimeras




I started my scientific carer by investigating the development of the digestive tract in the laboratory of a well-known embryologist, Etienne Wolff, then professor at the Collège de France. My animal model was the chick embryo. The investigations that I pursued on liver development together with serendipity, led me to devise a cell-marking technique based on the construction of chimeric embryos between two closely related species of birds, the Japanese quail (Coturnix coturnix japonica) and the chick (Gallus gallus).

The possibility to follow the migration and fate of the cells throughout development from early embryonic stages up to hatching and even after birth, was a breakthrough in developmental biology of higher vertebrates.

This article describes some of scientific achievements based on the use of this technique in my laboratory during the last 38 years.