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Live imaging has revolutionized the analysis of developmental biology over the last few years. The ability to track in real time the dynamic processes that occur at tissue and cellular levels gives a much clearer view of development, and allows greater temporal resolution, than is possible with fixed tissue. Drosophila imaginal discs are a particularly important model of many aspects of development, but their small size and location inside the larva and pupa has prevented live imaging techniques from extensively being used in their study. Here, we introduce the use of viscous culture medium to enable high resolution imaging of imaginal disc development. As a proof of principle, we have analyzed the transformation that occurs during metamorphosis of the wing imaginal disc into the mature wing and report several previously unobserved stages of this model of organogenesis. These imaging methods are especially useful to study the complex and dynamic changes that occur during morphogenesis, but we show that they can also be used to analyze other developmental and cellular events. Moreover, our viscous medium creates a platform for future adaptation of other tissue culture conditions to allow imaging of a wide range of developmental events and systems.

Original publication




Journal article


Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A

Publication Date





14217 - 14222


Animals, Cell Culture Techniques, Culture Media, Drosophila, Imaging, Three-Dimensional, Larva, Metamorphosis, Biological, Pupa, Viscosity, Wings, Animal