A novel application of motion analysis for detecting stress responses in embryos at different stages of development.
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Motion analysis is one of the tools available to biologists to extract biologically relevant information from image datasets and has been applied to a diverse range of organisms. The application of motion analysis during early development presents a challenge, as embryos often exhibit complex, subtle and diverse movement patterns. A method of motion analysis able to holistically quantify complex embryonic movements could be a powerful tool for fields such as toxicology and developmental biology to investigate whole organism stress responses. Here we assessed whether motion analysis could be used to distinguish the effects of stressors on three early developmental stages of each of three species: (i) the zebrafish Danio rerio (stages 19 h, 21.5 h and 33 h exposed to 1.5% ethanol and a salinity of 5); (ii) the African clawed toad Xenopus laevis (stages 24, 32 and 34 exposed to a salinity of 20); and iii) the pond snail Radix balthica (stages E3, E4, E6, E9 and E11 exposed to salinities of 5, 10 and 15). Image sequences were analysed using Sparse Optic Flow and the resultant frame-to-frame motion parameters were analysed using Discrete Fourier Transform to quantify the distribution of energy at different frequencies. This spectral frequency dataset was then used to construct a Bray-Curtis similarity matrix and differences in movement patterns between embryos in this matrix were tested for using ANOSIM.
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