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New book summarizes research on symmetry breaking in biology

Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

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IMAGE: The cover of Symmetry Breaking in Biology shows three examples of symmetry breaking in biological systems. The figures in the foreground show the asymmetric arrangement of internal organs in the... view more

Credit: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press

COLD SPRING HARBOR, N.Y. (May 18, 2010) -- Symmetry breaking events are critical for the survival of all living systems. They are required for cell division, development, and movement in all organisms from single-celled species to human beings. Moreover, in multicellular organisms, symmetry breaking allows the generation of cells with different fates and underpins the complex arrangement of tissues and organs achieved during embryogenesis.

A new book from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, Symmetry Breaking in Biology, surveys current advances in the field. Written and edited by experts in the field, this volume explores how symmetry breaking occurs in biology and the roles of these events at numerous different levels. The contributors examine the mechanisms by which cells polarize, divide asymmetrically, and produce asymmetric structures, providing examples from bacteria, yeast, plants, invertebrates, and mammals.

"We hope that this collection of reviews will serve the purposes of both summarizing what we have learned so far, and of highlighting the central questions that remain for future investigation," write the editors, Rong Li and Bruce Bowerman, in the preface to the book.

Including discussions of the molecular basis of polarization mechanisms, asymmetric division of stem cells during development, the generation of left-right asymmetry of the body axis in mammals, and theoretical approaches to symmetry breaking, the volume is a vital reference for molecular, cell, and developmental biologists, as well as physical scientists interested in how and why symmetry breaking occurs in living systems.

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About the book: Symmetry Breaking in Biology (ISBN 978-087969889-8; © 2010 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press) was edited by Rong Li (The Stowers Institute for Medical Research) and Bruce Bowerman (Institute of Molecular Biology and Department of Biology, University of Oregon). It is hardcover and is 301 pp. in length (7" × 10"; illus., index). For more information, see http://www.cshlpress.com/link/symmetry.htm.

About Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press: Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press is an internationally renowned publisher of books, journals, and electronic media, located on Long Island, New York. Since 1933, it has furthered the advance and spread of scientific knowledge in all areas of genetics and molecular biology, including cancer biology, plant science, bioinformatics, and neurobiology. It is a division of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, an innovator in life science research and the education of scientists, students, and the public. For more information, visit www.cshlpress.com.

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