Syllabus  Biology 441 Vertebrate Embryology  Albert Harris    Spring 2017

MWF 9:05-9:55 Wilson 107

Office: Room 103 Wilson Hall
Office Hours: 10-12 Monday and Wednesday, or at other times by appointment

web sites: http://www. and

office phone 919-966-1230
home 919-493-1572

Teaching assistants: John Noto and Diego Hipolito Canario


Optional textbook: Human Embryology and Developmental Biology, by Bruce M. Carlson. Any edition is OK.

The Biology 441 lab is NOT required for students taking the lecture course. It is a separate 1-hour course.
Labs will begin on January 18-19. lab syllabus

exams and grading

Lecture notes, videos, review questions, and other material needed for exams will be posted on this web site throughout the semester.
Please check it frequently for updates.


1) Wed. Jan 11 Mammal Embryology in Contrast with Sea Urchin Embryology
lecture notes
2) Friday Jan 13 Subdivision of Vertebrate Embryos Into Ectoderm, Mesoderm & Endoderm
lecture notes
    Monday Jan 16 ******* Holiday in Honor of Martin Luther King Jr. ********
3) Wednesday Jan 18 Embryology of Teleost Fish. Why are zebra-fish good "model organisms?
lecture notes
4) Friday Jan 20 Embryology of Amphibians (Salamanders & Frogs). Advantages for Experiments
lecture notes
5) Monday Jan 23 Embryonic Development of Birds, Reptiles & Mammals. Why so similar?
lecture notes
6) Wednesday Jan 25 Experimental Embryology, Regulation, Fate maps, In Situ Labeling
lecture notes
some vocabulary to review

illustrations shown in class
You should be able to tell what animal each of these figures is from, and to label
or identify specific parts of them. One or more of these may appear on a future exam.

7) Friday Jan 27 Experimental Embryology, continued (see notes for Wednesday)

A video of plutei (larvae of sea urchins) was shown before the lecture, accompanied by a recording of the
Blue Danube waltz,by Johann Strauss Jr.
During the lecture, a video was shown of slugs of the cellular slime mold Dictyostelium developing
stalks and fruiting bodies, to the music of Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries. This illustrated an extreme example of developmental regulation.
There is a still picture from this video in the lecture notes.

8) Monday Jan 30 Cell Sorting and Discovery of Selective Adhesion Proteins
lecture notes
preparing for the first hour exam
9) Wednesday Feb 1 Cell Sorting, continued lecture notes
10) Friday Feb 3 Review for first examination
review questions (posted Tuesday 10:15 pm)
11) Monday Feb 6 First Examination
12) Wednesday Feb 8 Easy Mathematics about Surface Curvatures, Tensions and Pressures
lecture notes
video (with narration), showing a simple computer program to graph curvature


13) Friday Feb 10 How Do Physical Forces Cause the Shapes of Anatomical Structures?
(lecture notes continued from February 8th)

Animations shown at the beginning of the lecture:
budding of hydra by rearrangement of cells
blood vessels forming and changing in a rabbit ear
blood vessels in a tadpole tail

14) Monday Feb 13 Symmetries of Causes Control Symmetries of Anatomical Shapes
lecture notes
15) Wednesday Feb 15 Reaction-Diffusion Systems: How Instabilities Create Geometric Patterns
lecture notes
some thought questions about curvature and symmetry

  some web links to look at about various topics in embryology
added Thursday Feb 16 at 10:45 am; revised Friday Feb 17 at 12:45 pm
16) Friday Feb 17 Fractals and Branching Structures. lecture notes
Somites and the Notochord. This topic will be continued on Monday; lecture notes will be posted then.
Some video links from the web. Please look at the ones on somites.

Optional reading that you might find interesting (posted Sunday at 3 pm)
This is a recent journal issue entirely on the subject of development of left-right asymmetry.
You should be able to access this by clicking on the link and entering your onyen and password.

17) Monday Feb 20 Pattern Formation; then Somites and Other Structures from Mesoderm, continued
lecture notes on patterns
lecture notes on mesoderm
links to the videos shown in class

18) Wednesday Feb 22 Review for Second Examination
review questions

Please note: You are also responsible for the figures and illustrations posted on the course
web pages, from January 30th (which was not covered on the first hour exam) through February 20th.
The exam may include one or more pictures on which you will need to label something, identify
something, or say what is significant.

The question list was edited at 4:10 pm on Tuesday. Some hints were added, and some questions that dealt with material that hasn't been fully covered yet were flagged with **. As before, questions marked with an * are more difficult and not many will be asked.

19) Friday Feb 24 Second Examination
20) Monday Feb 27 Ovaries and Testis; Primordial Germ Cells and Gamete Formation; Heart.
See notes on mesoderm from February 20 - the picture of primordial germ cells has been added.
Pascal program simulating the Liesegang reaction, shown at the beginning of the lecture
21) Wednesday Mar 1 Cartilage and Bone
lecture notes
22) Friday Mar 3 Ectoderm
lecture notes
notes on retino-tectal projections were added March 8, 7:45 am
23) Monday Mar 6 Chemotaxis, and more on ectoderm
lecture notes and video links on chemotaxis
This page was revised on April 3. New illustrations were added.
Two videos of computer simulations of mechanism of chemotaxis. These were shown in class with the sound turned off, but please watch them again and listen to the recorded audio.
    first video: demonstration of behavioral rules that can produce the effects of chemotaxis

    second video: user's choice of different rules

24) Wednesday Mar 8 Retino-Tectal Projections (continuation of Ectoderm)
see lecture notes from March 3
25) Friday Mar 10 Endoderm lecture notes
 March 13-17 spring break
26) Monday Mar 20 Development of higher plants, in contrast to animals
lecture notes [updated Tuesday 11 am]
27) Wednesday Mar 22 Bioassays; lecture notes
Sex Determination; lecture notes
28) Friday Mar 24 Limb buds; lecture notes
29) Monday Mar 27 Limb buds, continued
30) Wednesday Mar 29 Review for third examination
first set of review questions
second set of review questions
third set of review questions

31) Friday Mar 31 Third Examination
32) Monday Apr 3 Regeneration, Especially of Salamander Limbs; lecture notes
33) Wednesday Apr 5 Regeneration, continued; lecture notes;
Atherosclerosis; lecture notes
34) Friday Apr 7 Metamorphosis; lecture notes
35) Monday Apr 10 Immunology, Allergies, and Autoimmune Diseases in Relation to Embryology
lecture notes
These notes were revised April 12 at 1:30 pm.
36) Wednesday Apr 12 Immunology, continued
     Friday April 14 ******* Holiday ********
37) Monday Apr 17 Locomotion of Amoebae and Tissue Cells
lecture notes
38) Wednesday Apr 19 Cell Locomotion and Traction, continued
See lecture notes from April 17, which were modified on April 19 at 2:00 PM.
39) Friday Apr 21 Cancer as Disruption in Embryological Mechanisms; lecture notes
40) Monday Apr 24 Aging lecture notes
41) Wednesday Apr 26 Guest lecture by teaching assistant John Noto: Embryonic Development in Fruit Flies
downloadable PowerPoint file
42) Friday Apr 28 Evo-Devo: lecture notes
Course Review: lecture notes
  Dr. Harris will be in his office or in the lecture room all day on
Wednesday, May 3, beginning at 9:00, for exam review and questions.

Final exam format and scope

first set of review questions (on topics since the last exam)
second set
third set

  FINAL EXAM: Monday, May 8, 8:00 am