January 1, 2014 (Vol. 34, No. 1)
Strong Points: Can follow user-selected cell lineages
Weak Points: Animation can lag
iPad/iPhone (also available for Android)
The description of the WormGUIDES app is terse, but appropriate: “the making of a worm.” This app provides an animated visualization of embryogenesis in C. elegans, as a single cell divides to give 558 cells over the course of 337 minutes. The time course is (thankfully) sped up such that app users can observe the phenomenon in mere minutes. Importantly, the app allows users to take advantage of one of the really neat features of C. elegans development: the fact that the exact lineage for and position of each cell is known. Thus, app users can select any one of the “cells” at any point during the animation, and its name will appear. Then, in the menu for that cell, users can choose to display its ancestors or descendants (or both) as the animation progresses. The user can select individual colors to depict the ancestors/descendants of a given cell.