Date Published:MAY 1 2015
Progress of development is commonly reconstructed from imaging snapshots of chemical or mechanical processes in fixed tissues. As a first step in these reconstructions, snapshots must be spatially registered and ordered in time. Currently, image registration and ordering are often done manually, requiring a significant amount of expertise with a specific system. However, as the sizes of imaging data sets grow, these tasks become increasingly difficult, especially when the images are noisy and the developmental changes being examined are subtle. To address these challenges, we present an automated approach to simultaneously register and temporally order imaging data sets. The approach is based on vector diffusion maps, a manifold learning technique that does not require a priori knowledge of image features or a parametric model of the developmental dynamics. We illustrate this approach by registering and ordering data from imaging studies of pattern formation and morphogenesis in three model systems. We also provide software to aid in the application of our methodology to other experimental data sets.