To investigate the role of mechanical constraints in morphogenesis and development, we have developed a pipeline of techniques based on incompressible elastic sensors. These techniques combine the advantages of incompressible liquid droplets, which have been used as precise in situ shear stress sensors, and of elastic compressible beads, which are easier to tune and to use. Droplets of a polydimethylsiloxane mix, made fluorescent through specific covalent binding to a rhodamin dye, are produced by a microfluidics device. The elastomer rigidity after polymerization is adjusted to the tissue rigidity. Its mechanical properties are carefully calibrated in situ, for a sensor embedded in a cell aggregate submitted to uniaxial compression. The local shear stress tensor is retrieved from the sensor shape, accurately reconstructed through an active contour method. In vitro, within cell aggregates, and in vivo, in the prechordal plate of the zebrafish embryo during gastrulation, our pipeline of techniques demonstrates its efficiency to directly measure the three dimensional shear stress repartition within a tissue.

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