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7 - Emerging Form

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 April 2021

Alessandro Minelli
Affiliation:
University of Padua
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Summary

Regular patterns are common in living organisms. Examples are the radial symmetry of many flowers, the bilateral symmetry of most animals, the repetition of vertebrae or the branching of vascular systems. In principle, these regular patterns only require the repetition of one elementary module. There is no separate genetic control for each vertebra or body segment, or for left vs. right eyes. Deviation from symmetry, or from precise repetition of identical parts, may require specific control, as in the right- vs. left-handedness of gastropod shells, but what is controlled is deviation from symmetry, rather than polarity of handedness; therefore, flipping between directions can be easy. Repetition of a pattern at different scale produces fractal shapes of which there are a number in living nature. However, targeted investigation is required to confirm if a given symmetric or fractal pattern is produced in the mathematically simplest way, a prediction sometimes contradicted by facts. Genes are involved in specification of positions along the main body axis of animals, but the genome does not contain any specification of the linear paths along which nerve axons or fungal hyphae grow.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Emerging Form
  • Alessandro Minelli
  • Book: Understanding Development
  • Online publication: 29 April 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108872287.009
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  • Emerging Form
  • Alessandro Minelli
  • Book: Understanding Development
  • Online publication: 29 April 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108872287.009
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Emerging Form
  • Alessandro Minelli
  • Book: Understanding Development
  • Online publication: 29 April 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108872287.009
Available formats
×