The creation of atlases, or digital models where information from different subjects can be combined, is a field of increasing interest in biomedical imaging. When a single image does not contain enough information to appropriately describe the organism under study, it is then necessary to acquire images of several individuals, each of them containing complementary data with respect to the rest of the components in the cohort.
This approach allows creating digital prototypes, ranging from anatomical atlases of human patients and organs, obtained for instance from Magnetic Resonance Imaging, to gene expression cartographies of embryo development, typically achieved from Light Microscopy.
Within such context, we propose, develop and validate new dedicated image processing methodologies that, based on image registration techniques, bring information from multiple individuals into alignment within a single digital atlas model. We also elaborate a dedicated software visualization platform to explore the resulting wealth of multi-dimensional data and novel analysis algorithms to automatically mine the generated resource in search of biological insights.
In particular, this work focuses on gene expression data from developing zebrafish embryos imaged at the cellular resolution level with Two-Photon Laser Scanning Microscopy. Disposing of quantitative measurements relating multiple gene expressions to cell position and their evolution in time is a fundamental prerequisite to understand embryogenesis multi-scale processes. However, the number of gene expressions that can be simultaneously stained in one acquisition is limited due to optical and labeling constraints. These limitations motivate the implementation of mapping strategies that can recreate a virtual gene expression multiplex.