This is the second edition of a clearly written undergraduate textbook that emphasises the fundamental ways in which genes control the course of development leading from embryos to adult forms. The emphasis on general principles makes sense and will help students to organise this vast topic, as so much of what happens in development is conserved right through from fruit flies to mammals.
The book should prove a useful teaching aid. Chapters are organised sensibly, emphasising first the notion of body plans, then tackling the problem of how to build bodies, from organs to nervous systems and limbs. The illustrations are vivid and freely available online, along with suggested course outlines and review questions.
Lurking behind all discussions of development is Lewis Wolpert's more than 30-year-old metaphor known as "the French flag problem": how can a group of genes in a cell produce highly differentiated tissues all on their own with no one giving instructions about what to do or when?
Evolutionary developmental biologists are now answering this essential question, gene by gene, limb by limb. Principles of Development incorporates this important new work on every page, and does so as well as any text on the subject.
Mark Pagel is professor of evolutionary biology, University of Reading.
Principles of Development
Author - Lewis Wolpert, Rosa Beddington, Thomas Jessell, Peter Lawrence, Elliott Meyerowitz and Jim Smith
ISBN - 0 19 879291 3
Publisher - Oxford University Press
Price - £29.99
Pages - 519