Topobiology: An Introduction to Molecular Embryology

Topobiology: An Introduction to Molecular Embryology

Topobiology: An Introduction to Molecular Embryology

Topobiology: An Introduction to Molecular Embryology

Excerpt

This little book was written to provoke interest in a body of knowledge constituting a field that I propose to call topobiology. Topobiology considers those place-dependent interactions of cell surfaces with other cell surfaces or with substrates that result in changes in cell regulation. In metazoans, such place-dependent molecular interactions can lead to regulation of the primary processes of embryological development and thus to changes in morphology.

Insofar as it is centrally concerned with developmental mechanisms, topobiology has a direct bearing upon the relationship between embryology and morphologic evolution, as well as upon the bases of behavior as determined by brain structure and function. A trio of related problems -- the development of form, the evolution of form, and the morphologic and functional bases of behavior -- embraces the main unsolved riddles to be confronted by modern biology as it approaches the millennium. It may seem strange that I link behavior to the other two problems, but I believe that behavior is in fact a continuing aspect of development and one that sharply affects natural selection for animal form. My main purpose in this essay is to emphasize the central significance of topobiological mechanisms to these three problems.

Topobiological mechanisms are mediated through cell surfaces and movement but at the same time are genetically determined. They therefore link developmental genetics to the mechanochemical events affecting surfaces and movement at several lev-

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