The Nature of Biological Diversity

The Nature of Biological Diversity

The Nature of Biological Diversity

The Nature of Biological Diversity

Excerpt

The papers contained within this volume are the result of a series of lectures held at The University of Michigan in the spring of 1961, under the auspices of its Institute of Science and Technology.

Of the several areas of inquiry that are germane to an understanding of biological phenomena, one of the more challenging is that which attempts to define the factors responsible for the diversification of cellular structure and function. In planning the lectures from which this volume is derived, we felt that examination of the elements leading to the diversification of biological systems from a broad vantage point might yield a degree of synthesis to an area which is fraught with as much variation in its approaches as the systems which it attempts to investigate. This volume deals nearly exclusively with the development of heterogeneity at the cellular and subcellular level, for elucidation of the problems involved will come largely from these areas of investigation which are basically biochemical and molecular in their philosophy.

In pondering the general problem of diversification in biological systems, we arrive at the realization not only that the properties of cells are the result of a long history of organic evolution but also that prebiological evolution has placed basic restrictions upon what cells may become and what they may do. These restrictions, of course, relate to the properties of the molecules available for biological use. Thus, in any general discussion of diversification, an examination of the origin of organic molecules makes a logical starting point. This is the topic which has been chosen to introduce the subject. From this point an examination of ways in which molecules may interact to yield biologically useful energy needed for cell maintenance may be considered. Perhaps the most informative system in this respect is the evolution of the photosynthetic mechanism.

Cell diversification depends upon the variety of catalytic and structural proteins from which the cells are fabricated. These aspects of the problem are examined in three chapters dealing with biochemical . . .

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