Measurement of cortical elasticity in Drosophila melanogaster embryos using ferrofluids

Konstantin Doubrovinski, Michael Swan, Oleg Polyakov, Eric F. Wieschaus

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

72 Scopus citations


Many models of morphogenesis are forced to assume specific mechanical properties of cells, because the actual mechanical properties of living tissues are largely unknown. Here, we measure the rheology of epithelial cells in the cellularizing Drosophila embryo by injecting magnetic particles and studying their response to external actuation. We establish that, on timescales relevant to epithelial morphogenesis, the cytoplasm is predominantly viscous, whereas the cellular cortex is elastic. The timescale of elastic stress relaxation has a lower bound of 4 min, which is comparable to the time required for internalization of the ventral furrow during gastrulation. The cytoplasm was measured to be ∼103-fold as viscous as water. We show that elasticity depends on the actin cytoskeleton and conclude by discussing how these results relate to existing mechanical models of morphogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1051-1056
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jan 31 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • Cell rheology
  • Embryology
  • Gastrulation


Dive into the research topics of 'Measurement of cortical elasticity in Drosophila melanogaster embryos using ferrofluids'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this