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Principles of Development by Wolpert et al.: A Comprehensive Guide to Developmental Biology

Principles of Development by Wolpert et al.: A Comprehensive Guide to Developmental Biology

Developmental biology is the study of how living organisms grow, develop, and differentiate from a single cell to a complex multicellular organism. It is a fascinating and dynamic field that integrates various disciplines such as genetics, molecular biology, cell biology, anatomy, physiology, and evolution. Developmental biology also has important applications in biotechnology, medicine, and agriculture.

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One of the most influential and widely used textbooks in developmental biology is Principles of Development by Lewis Wolpert and his co-authors. The first edition was published in 1998 and the latest edition (the sixth) was released in 2020. This book covers all the key topics and concepts in developmental biology, from the history and basic principles to the latest advances and discoveries. It also provides a clear and concise explanation of the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying development, as well as the experimental techniques and model systems used to study them.

In this article, we will give you an overview of the main features and contents of Principles of Development, as well as some tips on how to access it online for free.

What are the main features of Principles of Development?

Principles of Development is designed to be a comprehensive and accessible introduction to developmental biology for undergraduate and graduate students. Some of the main features of this book are:

  • It emphasizes the general principles and key concepts that apply to all animals and plants, rather than focusing on specific details or exceptions.

  • It illustrates how development is regulated by genes, molecules, cells, tissues, organs, and environmental factors, using examples from a wide range of organisms.

  • It explains how development is shaped by evolution and how developmental processes can be modified or manipulated for biotechnological or medical purposes.

  • It includes numerous figures, diagrams, tables, and photographs that help visualize and summarize the information presented in the text.

  • It offers online resources such as animations, videos, quizzes, flashcards, glossary, and web links that complement and enhance the learning experience.

  • It provides end-of-chapter questions and problems that test the understanding and application of the material covered in each chapter.

  • It updates the content regularly to reflect the latest research findings and developments in the field.

What are the main contents of Principles of Development?

Principles of Development is divided into 16 chapters that cover the following topics:

  • History and basic concepts: This chapter introduces the history of developmental biology, the main questions and challenges in the field, and some basic concepts such as polarity, axes, symmetry, gradients, fields, induction, competence, determination, differentiation, morphogenesis, pattern formation, cell fate specification, cell lineage tracing, cloning, regeneration, stem cells, epigenetics, and gene regulation.

  • Development of the Drosophila body plan: This chapter uses Drosophila melanogaster (the fruit fly) as a model system to illustrate how development is controlled by genes and gene networks. It explains how maternal effect genes establish the anterior-posterior (AP) and dorsal-ventral (DV) axes of the embryo; how segmentation genes divide the embryo into segments; how homeotic genes specify the identity of each segment; how pair-rule genes regulate gene expression in alternate segments; how gap genes define broad regions along the AP axis; how segment polarity genes establish polarity within each segment; how Hox genes determine regional identity along the AP axis; how selector genes control cell fate choices; how signaling pathways mediate cell-cell communication; and how morphogens create concentration gradients that influence cell behavior.

Vertebrate development I: life cycles and experimental techniques: This chapter describes the life cycles and reproductive strategies of different vertebrate groups (fishes,




and mammals), as well as some common experimental techniques used to study vertebrate development (such as microinjection,


gene knockout,

gene editing,

chimera formation,

  • and organ culture).

Vertebrate development II: Xenopus and zebrafish: This chapter focuses on two widely e0e6b7cb5c


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