Mechanisms of Morphogenesis - 2nd Edition - ISBN: 9780123910622, 9780124157576

Mechanisms of Morphogenesis

2nd Edition

Authors: Jamie Davies
eBook ISBN: 9780124157576
Hardcover ISBN: 9780123910622
Imprint: Academic Press
Published Date: 17th April 2013
Page Count: 414
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Morphogenesis is the set of processes that generate shape and form in the embryo--an important area within developmental biology. An exciting and up-to-the-minute account of the very latest research into the factors that create biological form, Mechanisms of Morphogenesis, second edition is a text reference on the mechanisms of cell and tissue morphogenesis in a diverse array of organisms, including prokaryotes, animals, plants and fungi.

By combining hard data with computer modeling, Mechanisms of Morphogenesis, second edition equips readers with a much broader understanding of the scope of modern research than is otherwise available. The book focuses on the ways in which the genetic program is translated to generate cell shape, to direct cell migration, and to produce the shape, form and rates of growth of the various tissues. Each topic is illustrated with experimental data from real systems, with particular reference to gaps in current knowledge and pointers to future

Key Features

  • Includes over 200 four-color figures
  • Offers an integrated view of theoretical developmental biology and computer modelling with laboratory-based discoveries
  • Covers experimental techniques as a guide to the reader
  • Organized around principles and mechanisms, using them to integrate discoveries from a range of organisms and systems


Cell and developmental biologists, graduates, would attend conferences by the British Society for Developmental Biology and the American Society for Developmental Biology, the Developmental Pathology Society etc.

Table of Contents



A Note on References

SECTION I: Introductory Section

Chapter 1. Introduction: The Aims and Structure of This Book

Reference List

Chapter 2. Key Principles of Morphogenesis

The Idea of ‘Mechanism’


Emergence, Trap-Door Processes and the Dangers of Post-Hoc Reasoning

Feedback, Self-Assembly and Adaptive Self-Organization

Reference List

Chapter 3. The Power and Limitations of Self-Assembly

Introduction to Self-Assembly

Self-Assembly of Bilayered Membranes

One-Dimensional Self-Assembly: Actin

One-Dimensional Self-Assembly: Collagen

Three-Dimensional Self-Assembly: Simple Viruses

Quality Control in Self-Assembling Structures

Limitations to Self-Assembly

Reference List

SECTION II: Cell Shape and Cell Morphogenesis

Chapter 4. Morphogenesis of Individual Cells: A Brief Overview

Flattening and Elongation of Cells

Production of Cell Processes

Cell Fusions

Cell Cavitation

Changes in Cell Shape can Directly Drive Morphogenesis of Tissues

Reference List

Chapter 5. Animal Cell Shape: The Importance of the Cytoskeleton


Building and Placement of Tensile Microfilaments

Adaptive Self-Organization of the Microfilament Tension System

Assembly of the Microtubule System

Formation of Special Structures: Actin-Based Cell Protrusions

Reference List

Chapter 6. Cellular Morphogenesis in Plants

Diffuse Cell Elongation in Plants

Focused Cell Growth: Root Hairs, Pollen Tubes and Trichomes

Reference List

SECTION III: Cell Migration

Chapter 7. Cell Migration in Development: A Brief Overview

Morphogenesis by Coalescence of Dispersed Cells

Translocation of Groups of Cells from One Place to Another

Dispersal of Cells from One Site to the Rest of the Body

Migration by Cell Processes

Reference List

Chapter 8. The Nano-Machinery of Locomotion

Protrusion: The Actin-Based Nano-Machinery of the Leading Edge

Filopodia in Cell Crawling

Control of Formation of Lamellipodia/Filopodia

Advance of the Cell Body

Retraction of the Rear of the Cell

Key Points to Take Forward into the Next Chapters

Reference List

Chapter 9. Guidance by Chemotaxis

The Chemotactic Gradient

Reading the Chemotactic Gradient

Linking the Internal Representation of the External Gradient to Motility

How Good a Model is D. Discoideum for other Species?


Multiple Sources of Chemorepellant can Define a Pathway in a Way that Multiple Sources of Chemoattractant Cannot

The Usefulness of Noise to Decision-Making by Migrating Cells

Integration of Chemotaxis and Contact Guidance

Reference List

Chapter 10. Guidance by Galvanotaxis

Cell Movement in Response to Electric Fields

Electric Fields in Living Systems

Reference List

Chapter 11. Guidance by Contact


Durotaxis: Guidance of Cells by Gradients of Mechanical Compliance

Attraction by Contact-Driven Cell Signal Transduction

Pathways of Attractive Molecules in the EmbrYO

Guidance of Cells by Aligned Fibres

Guidance by Inhibition of Locomotion

Reference List

Chapter 12. Waypoint Navigation in the Embryo

Waypoint Navigation by Germ Cells in Drosophila Melanogaster

Waypoint Navigation by Growth Cones

Dense Arrays of Waypoints Make Pathways

The Many Waypoints of the Vertebrate Visual System

Reference List

Chapter 13. Cooperative Migration of Mesenchymal Cells

Why Migrate as a Collective?

Case Study: Collective Cell Migration by the Neural Crest

Case Study: The Rostral Migratory Stream

Concluding Remarks

Reference List

Chapter 14. Condensation of Cells

Condensation Through Enhanced Cell Adhesion

Condensation by Elimination of Interstitial Matrix

Reference List

SECTION IV: Epithelial Morphogenesis

Chapter 15. The Epithelial State: a Brief Overview

The Making of an Epithelium

The Forces that Shape an Epithelium

Reference List

Chapter 16. Neighbour Exchange and Convergent Extension

Reference List

Chapter 17. Closure of Holes

Dorsal Closure in Drosophila Melanogaster

Wound Healing in the Embryo

Reference List

Chapter 18. Invagination and Evagination: The Making and Shaping of Folds and Tubes


Models for Axial Invagination (1): Apical Constriction

Models for Axial Invagination (2): Matrix Mechanics

Models for Axial Invagination (3): An Attempted Synthesis

Orthogonal Invagination: Neural Tube Formation in Vertebrates

Invagination without Tube Formation

Evagination of Imaginal Discs

Reference List

Chapter 19. Epithelial Fusion

Tracheal Fusion in Drosophila Melanogaster

Epithelial Fusion in Palate Development

Reference List

Chapter 20. Epithelial Branching

Branching by Sprouting

Switching Between Modes of Branching

How Conserved is Branching by Sprouting?

Branching by Clefting

Patterning the Branching Tree

Intussusceptive Branching

Automatic Versus Planned Architecture in Branching Systems

Reference List

Chapter 21. Boundaries to Epithelial Movement

Avoiding the Problem of Boundary Control

Protecting a Border by Controlling Migration

Theory 1: Boundary Formation by Differential Adhesion (caution!)

Theory 2: Boundary Formation by Tension

Reduced Cell Proliferation: an Aid to Boundary Stability?

Reference List

SECTION V: Morphogenesis by Cell Proliferation and Death

Chapter 22. Growth, Proliferation and Death: A Brief Overview

Cell Proliferation is Controlled at Several Scales

Control of Cell Proliferation

A Brief Introduction to the Cell Cycle

Local Control of Cell Proliferation

Tissue-Scale Control of Proliferation: A Mechanism for Keeping Different Cell Populations in Balance

Large-Scale Control of Cell Proliferation

Interplay Between Global and Organ-Specific Signals

Plants Show a Direct Connection Between Growth and Morphogenesis

Reference List

Chapter 23. Morphogenesis by Orientated Cell Division

Orientation of the Mitotic Spindle

Adaptive Self-Organization of Mitotic Orientation and Hertwig’s Rule

Orientated Cell Division in Plants

Reference List

Chapter 24. Morphogenesis by Elective Cell Death

Competition, Death and the Trophic Theory

Anoikis and Error Correction

Elective Cell Death in Plants

Death for Life

Reference List

SECTION VI: Modelling Morphogenesis

Chapter 25. Modelling Morphogenesis: A Brief Overview

The Purposes of Modelling

Broad Strategies for Modelling: Mathematical Versus Synthetic Biological

Reference List

Chapter 26. Mechanical and Mathematical Models of Morphogenesis

Physical Models

Computer Models of Epithelial Morphogenesis

Concluding Remarks

Reference List

Chapter 27. Modelling Using Living Cells: Tissue Engineering and Synthetic Morphology

Tissue Engineering as a Technique for Modelling Morphogenesis

Synthetic Morphology

Reference List

SECTION VII: Conclusion and Perspectives

Chapter 28. Conclusions and Perspectives

Provisional Conclusions from the Mechanisms Described in Foregoing Chapters

Are Multilayered Morphogenetic Systems Hierarchical?

Looking Forwards: What Remains to be Done?

Reference List



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About the Author

Jamie Davies

Since 1995 Davies has run his own laboratory at the University of Edinburgh, with a multidisciplinary focus on discovering how mammalian organs construct themselves and how we can use apply knowledge to build new tissues and organs for those in need. Some of the work of his 20-strong research team is 'conventional' developmental biology; identifying signals and mechanisms used in natural organ development. Some is bioinformatic analysis (we host the editorial office of an international database for renal development – – funded by the USA National Institutes of Health, and the database, an international effort for the International Union of Basic and Clinical Pharmacology). Some of his work is in tissue engineering – his lab has recently developed a method to produce engineered 'fetal kidneys' from simple suspensions of stem cells, an activity that attracted considerable press attention last year. Finally, his lab is pioneering the application of synthetic biology techniques to tissue engineering, to 'program' cells to make structures that are designed rather than evolved.

Davies has published around 140 research papers in the field of mammalian development, has published one major specialist monograph (Mechanisms of Morphogenesis, Elsevier, 2005 2nd Ed 2014), one public engagement book (Life Unfoloding, OUP, 2013 (Hardback), 2015 (paperback), now in translation also) and has edited three multi-author books in the fields of development, stem cells and tissue engineering. His contributions to research and teaching in this area have been recognized by having been elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and a Principal Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Davies served as Deputy Chair of the National Centre for 3Rs, a government agency that promotes research that refines, reduces or replaces animal experiments. He has also served as Editor-in-Chief of the research journal Organogenesis for 8 years, and is currently an Editor of Journal of Anatomy and PLOS One.

Affiliations and Expertise

University of Edinburgh, UK


"Davies retains from the first edition the concentration on morphogenesis itself…with other aspects of development taken for granted, and the organization that progresses in size from the sub-cellular systems critical for larger scale morphogenesis to mechanisms that concern whole population of cells… to keep the textbook manageable, he has presented some material more succinctly, such as the morphogenesis of sub-cellular structures.", January 2014