Dramatic technological advances in the field of genomics have made it possible to sequence the complete genomes of many
different organisms. With this overwhelming amount of data at hand, biologists are now confronted with the challenge of
understanding the function of the many different elements of the genome. One of the best places to start gaining insight on
the mechanisms by which the genome controls an organism is the study of embryogenesis.
There are multiple and inter-related layers of information that must be established in order to understand how the
genome controls the formation of an organism. One is cell lineage which describes how patterns of cell division give rise
to different parts of an organism. Another is gene expression which describes when and where different genes are turned
on. Both of these data types can now be acquired using fluorescent laser-scanning (confocal or 2-photon) microscopy of
embryos tagged with fluorescent proteins to generate 3D movies of developing embryos. However, analyzing the wealth of
resulting images requires tools capable of interactively visualizing several different types of information as well as being
scalable to terabytes of data.
This paper describes how the combination of existing large data volume visualization and the new Titan information
visualization framework of the Visualization Toolkit (VTK) can be applied to the problem of studying the cell lineage of
an organism. In particular, by linking the visualization of spatial and temporal gene expression data with novel ways of
visualizing cell lineage data, users can study how the genome regulates different aspects of embryonic development.