clarifying morphogenetic fields

Clarifying morphogenetic fields.

Morphogenetic fields correspond to an almost a century old concept in embryology, based on the potential of particular regions of embryonic tissues to form organs when transplanted in different regions of an embryo.

Well, at first Harrison [1918] called them “self-differentiating equipotential systems”1 and the term “field” was used later by Spemann [1921] (of the famous Spemann-Mangold organizer). Anyway, since 1921 there was plenty of time for one interested by embryogenesis to learn about this definition.

So, when a physicist, feeling ready to express an opinion about embryogenesis, use the term “morphogenetic field” one expect him to know that the “entire morphogenetic field” is quite easy to find, available from the zygote to the (variable) stage of cell divisions where one isolated cell have still the potential to regenerate an entire embryo. That corresponds to the entire morphogenetic field, called also primary morphogenetic field. And this is the easy part.
Things become more complex as secondary morphogenetic fields appear.

So, if our physicist aim was/is to describe the entire morphogenetic field he should just discuss the very early stage of development. I think this isn’t the case. Rather he use the term “morphogenetic field” in a different way. Fortunately the paper has a Glossary. Unfortunately the term “morphogenetic field” is absent from it2.


1. I very much like this term but I do understand it’s to long and that acronyms wasn’t in fashion in 1921, but “morphogenetic field” is also quite convenient.

2. I double and triple checked to be sure that it is absent, because somehow the Glossary isn’t in strict alphabetical order. It would be nice to correct that for the future distribution of the pdf. Hello EPJ AS editors🙂

3. In bold the misplaced terms [Koller’s or Rauber’s sickle isn’t marked as one might suspect that it was misplaced due to “Rauber”]:
Advection
Anlagen
Antero-posterior.
Apical ectodermal ridge
Autopod
Blastula
Bauplan
Buckling
Chemotactism (chemotaxy)
Cortical rotation
Contralateral
Deformation
Digital arch
Dimensionless equation
Displacement
Direct frog
Distal
Ectopic
Electroporation
Embryo
Endoderm
Epiblast
Epiboly
Extra-cellular matrix
Fibroblast growth factor
Gastrulation
Halteres
Hensen’s node
Homeotic transformation
Imaginal discs
Knock out
KRS
Limb plate
Lateral plate
Maternal proteins
Morula
Poiseuille (Jean-Louis Marie)
Poiseuille flow
Potential vector
Koller’s or Rauber’s sickle
Regulatory region
Scaffold
Rostro-caudal
Segmentation
Sickle
Somites
Sonic Hedge Hog
Sphenoid bone
Stokes flow
Stream function
Stress
Stylopod
Syncitium
Texture
Transcription factor
Tetrapod
Variability
Ventral
von Karman equation
Yolk-sac
Zeugopod

Some effort is also required to improve definitions, but we will see that in time.

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