The use of confocal microscopy and STERECON reconstructions in the analysis of sea urchin embryonic cell division

J Electron Microsc Tech. 1991 May;18(1):24-30. doi: 10.1002/jemt.1060180105.


A laser scanning confocal microscope has been used to investigate the development of the sea urchin embryo. The samples were fixed in Carnoy's solution at various developmental stages, stained for DNA with the Feulgen reaction, and optically sectioned with a BioRad MRC-500 confocal microscope. Computer-generated stereographic projection images and a three-dimensional contour tracing and reconstruction system were employed to investigate the cleavage pattern during the 6th cleavage division. Cell division is found to be asynchronous during the 6th cleavage, with macromere derivatives completing division first, followed by mesomeres, and finally by the outer quartet of micromeres (which begins division only after macromeres and mesomeres have completed their respective divisions). Sixth cleavage produces an embryo comprising 60 cells. Asynchronous division was also observed within individual tiers of blastomeres. Variations in the orientations of cell division axes within individual tiers of cells were also observed. The utility of computer-graphics reconstruction techniques for both quantitative and qualitative developmental analysis are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Division
  • Cleavage Stage, Ovum / cytology
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted*
  • Lasers
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence*
  • Sea Urchins / embryology*


  • Fluorescent Dyes