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Embryology and Genetics

Nature volume 135, pages 285286 (23 February 1935) | Download Citation



ONE of the most serious gaps in the whole structure of theoretical biology is the lack of connexion between the concepts of genetics and of embryology. Both sciences have a peculiar importance for biology because they both deal with then subject matter in a particularly objective way. The organism is not analysed along any of the lines worked out by the older physical sciences, but the path of analysis grows directly out of the reactions which are observed. In this respect, genetics has been conspicuously successful, so that we can now, theoretically at least, represent an organism symbolically as a set of genes. In practice, we cannot give a completely sufficient representation of an organism in this way, but we can often state precisely the way in which it differs from its fairly near relatives. It is as though we knew the active groups of a complex organic molecule, but not the molecular nucleus.

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