Physik der biologischen Gestaltbildung

  • Alfred Gierer
Part of the Verhandlungen der Gesellschaft deutscher Naturforscher und Ärzte book series (NATURFORSCHER, volume 111)


In each generation cycle of a higher organism, a complex structure is formed under the instruction of the genes. In this process morphogenetic fields (probably spatial concentration patterns of substances) are involved which elicit cell responses giving rise to visible pattern and form. Autocatalytic short-range activation in conjunction with long-range (“lateral”) inhibition is capable of generating striking concentration patterns starting from near-uniform distributions. No features unusual in molecular biology are required, and self-regulatory properties observed experimentally in biological development can be accounted for. Cell responses to morphogenetic fields can include cell differentiation and the generation of bending moments, curvature and form in cell sheets giving rise to defined forms in organs and organisms. It appears that biological pattern formation is explicable on the basis of known physical laws and processes.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alfred Gierer
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für VirusforschungTübingenDeutschland

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