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Doody's Review ServiceReviewer: Michael Cummings, PhD (University of Illinois at Chicago)
Description: This is a single topic book, devoted to the organization, structure, and function of polytene chromosomes. This is the last of three volumes (in conjunction with vols. 34 and 37) devoted to polytene chromosomes.
Purpose: In this volume the organization of chromatin in polytene chromosomes is reviewed, as is transcriptional activity, including puff formation, Balbiani rings, and nucleoli. There is also a section on DNA replication in polytene chromosomes, and an evaluation of the literature on molecular organization and expression of the ribosomal RNA genes.
Audience: Bench scientists and graduate students are the intended audience.
Features: There are ten sections rather than chapters, beginning with some general background information, and ending with DNA replication. Each section is subdivided into subsections, but this organization is not reflected in the table of contents, making it difficult to find a description of specific topics. The massive amount of work done by the editors would be more evident if the sections had been divided into chapters, with a detailed table of contents for each chapter. The index is useful, and most topics can be found there, but unfortunately, the overall framework of the book is hidden by the cursory table of contents. This organizational quirk should not deter anyone from using this comprehensive volume. In addition to the text, there is a wealth of illustrations in the form of photographs and diagrams, as well as an extensive array of tables. Many of the photographs are accompanied by interpretative drawings that help illustrate the point. The book contains 146 pages of references, and in conjunction with the earlier volumes is perhaps the most comprehensive bibliography on the literature of polytene chromosomes ever assembled. Extensive references published in English, German, Russian, and several other languages is are included.
Assessment: Anyone working on chromosomes, from bench scientists to graduate students, will want to have this important reference on their bookshelf. It is doubtful that another review of this caliber will be published soon.