Main Menu (Mobile)- Block
Main Menu - Block
Animal survival requires a functioning nervous system to develop during embryogenesis. Newborn neurons must assemble into circuits producing activity patterns capable of instructing behaviors. Elucidating how this process is coordinated requires new methods that follow maturation and activity of all cells across a developing circuit. We present an imaging method for comprehensively tracking neuron lineages, movements, molecular identities, and activity in the entire developing zebrafish spinal cord, from neurogenesis until the emergence of patterned activity instructing the earliest spontaneous motor behavior. We found that motoneurons are active first and form local patterned ensembles with neighboring neurons. These ensembles merge, synchronize globally after reaching a threshold size, and finally recruit commissural interneurons to orchestrate the left-right alternating patterns important for locomotion in vertebrates. Individual neurons undergo functional maturation stereotypically based on their birth time and anatomical origin. Our study provides a general strategy for reconstructing how functioning circuits emerge during embryogenesis.