Scott F. Gilbert's magisterial textbook Developmental Biology now appears in its sixth edition. It provides a sweeping account of the ideas, methods and topics of developmental biology from its origins in the great anatomists of the 19th century to developmental accounts of life cycles, embryology and cell signalling, through to senescence and a brief account of contemporary work on evolutionary developmental biology - "evo-devo".
The text, plus related source materials, should prove a delight to teach from. The publishers support a website ( www.devbio.com ) that complements rather than repeats the text, and an interactive CD-Rom is provided, with visual effects that rival those at one's local cinema. Introductory students will find almost everything they need in these three sources, and more advanced students can follow up leads from the website and excellent reference lists.
This edition benefits from new chapter organisation plus the transfer of much material from the text to the website. This allows the text to focus on development per se , while the website emphasises historical, biographical and technical details: who was von Baer, why was Haeckel such a disaster and how do zebras get their stripes? It is difficult to think how one could improve this textbook, short of the publisher providing a personal tutor with each copy.
Mark Pagel is professor of evolutionary biology, University of Reading.
Developmental Biology. Sixth edition
Author - Scott F. Gilbert
ISBN - 0 87893 243 7
Publisher - Sinauer
Price - £35.95
Pages - 749