Nicole Le Douarin and the use of quail-chick chimeras to study the developmental fate of neural crest and hematopoietic cells.


Department of Basic Medical Sciences, Neurosciences and Sensory Organs, University of Bari Medical School, Bari, Italy. Electronic address: [Email]


The quail-chick chimera marking system, devised in 1969, gave a new impetus to the analysis of cell migrations and interactions in the developing nervous, immune and hematopoietic systems. The method is based on the observation that the constitutive heterochromatin in all embryonic and adult cells of the quail is condensed in one large mass in the centre of the nucleus and is associated with the nucleolus, making this organelle strongly stained with the Feulgen-Rossenbeck reaction. The association of cells or rudiments from two avian species, advocated as a means to identify cells that migrate during embryogenesis, was rapidly recognized in this context as a useful tool for the study of many developmental biology problems. This article summarizes the fundamental contribution of Nicole Le Douarin to the discovery and the application of this technique over the last 40 years.


Chick embryo,Chimeras,Hematopoietic system,Neural crest,Quail embryo,