From a single cell–a fertilized egg–comes an elephant, a fly, or a human. How does this astonishing feat happen? How does the egg “know” what to turn into? How does it divide into the different cells, the separate tissues, the brain, the fingernail–each and every tiniest detail of the growing fetus? On this Very Short Introduction, renowned scientist Lewis Wolpert shows how the field of developmental biology seeks to respond to these profound questions. A distinguished developmental biologist himself, Wolpert offers a concise and highly readable account of what we now find out about development, discussing the primary important steps of growth, the patterning created by Hox genes and the improvement of form, embryonic stem cells, the timing of gene expression and its management, chemical signaling, and growth. Drawing on scientific breakthroughs in genetics, evolution, and molecular biology, he illuminates processes which are deeply rooted in evolutionary history, revealing how information is held in genes whose important timing in switching off and on is orchestrated by a host of proteins expressed by other genes.
Developmental Biology: A Very Short Introduction