PerspectiveDevelopmental Biology

Physical Biology Returns to Morphogenesis

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Science  12 Oct 2012:
Vol. 338, Issue 6104, pp. 201-203
DOI: 10.1126/science.1230718

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One of the enduring mysteries of developmental and cell biology is morphogenesis, the process of how the heritable body plan, in both its general aspects and in the detailed features of the adult, is shaped at every stage from the fertilized egg. Physical analysis played a large role early in the history of its study, then was largely ignored for a time as other approaches held sway, but has recently regained a central role as attention has turned anew to solving the riddle of how tens, hundreds, or thousands of embryonic cells act in coordinated fashion in so-called “mass” or “collective” cell movements, to shape the body plan of multicellular animals.