Embryonic Development

The stage of the embryonic development of the African Clawed Frog or Xenopus Laevis from a single fertlized egg to the fully developed organism. (From Zahn et al. (2022))

How is a single fertilized cell able to organize itself into a complex multicellular organism? Early embryogenesis requires an incredible level of spatial and temporal coordination. Even when embryos are magnitudes larger than the arising somatic cells, the early embryonic divisions are often faster and more synchronous, yet also robust. These early divisions occur largely in the absence of transcriptional regulation and checkpoints until the so-called mid-blastula transition when the cell cycle dramatically slows down and transcription initiates.

We are interested in combining techniques of physics and biology to better understand how the early embryo (i.e. the Xenopus frog embryo) is able to precisely control these developmental processes, both temporally and spatially.

Selected publications


Rombouts, J.; Vandervelde, A.; Gelens, L.

Delay models for the early embryonic cell cycle oscillator

In: PLoS One, vol. 13, no. 3, pp. 1-21, 2018.

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Anderson*, G. A.; Gelens*, L.; Baker, J.; Ferrell, J. E. Jr.

Desynchronizing Embryonic Cell Division Waves Reveals the Robustness of Xenopus laevis Development

In: Cell Reports, vol. 21, iss. 1, pp. 37–46, 2017, (featured on the cover).

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