Essential Developmental Biology: Second Edition / Edition 2

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Essential Developmental Biology, 2nd Edition, is a concise and well-illustrated treatment of this subject for undergraduates. With an emphasis throughout on the evidence underpinning the main conclusions, this book is suitable as the key text for both introductory and more advanced courses in developmental biology.

  • Includes new chapters on Evolution & Development, Gut Development, & Growth and Aging.
  • Contains expanded treatment of mammalian fertilization, the heart and stem cells.
  • Now features a glossary, notated further reading, and key discovery boxes.
  • Illustrated with over 250 detailed, full-color drawings.
  • Accompanied by a dedicated website, featuring animated developmental processes, a photo gallery of selected model organisms, and all art in PowerPoint and jpeg formats (also available to instructors on CD-ROM).

An Instructor manual CD-ROM for this title is available. Please contact our Higher Education team at for more information.

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What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"The second edition is a must have for anyone interested in development biology. New findings in hot fields such as stem cells, regeneration, and aging should make it attractive to a wide readership. Overall, the book is concise, well structured, and illustrated. I can highly recommend it."
Peter Gruss, Max Planck Society

"I have always found Jonathan Slack's writing thoughtful, provocative, and engaging, and simply fun to read. This effort is no exception. Every student of developmental biology should experience his holistic yet analytical view of the subject."
Margaret Saha, College of William & Mary

"The molecular and cellular processes that lead to the formation of an embryo are just beginning to be unraveled. This second edition of Essential Developmental Biology does the best job I have seen yet to present early on to the student some of the key unifying principles in early animal development. The writing style is exquisite, and the morphological and conceptual complexities involved in the formation of an animal are described in an extremely lucid fashion which will help students acquire a deep understanding of developmental processes."
James Deshler, Boston University

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781405122160
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 9/28/2005
  • Edition description: REV
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 8.70 (w) x 10.90 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Meet the Author

Professor Jonathan Slack has worked in London and Oxford and is currently Head of the Department of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Bath in England. He is a member of the European Molecular Biology Organization and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. He is a leading authority in developmental biology and has published over 150 scientific papers, as well as the well-received monograph From Egg to Embryo and the lighthearted and popular Egg and Ego.
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Table of Contents


Section 1: Groundwork.

1 The excitement of developmental biology.

Where the subject came from.

Central position in biology.

Impact on society.

Future impact.

2 Common features of development.

Genomic equivalence, cloning of animals.


Early development.

Morphogenetic processes.

Growth and death.

3 Developmental genetics.

Developmental mutants.

Screening for mutants.

Cloning of genes.


Gene duplication.

4 Experimental embryology.

Normal development.

Developmental commitment.

Acquisition of commitment.

Homeotic genes.

Criteria for proof.

5 Techniques for the study of development.


Study of gene expression by biochemical methods.

Study of gene expression by in situ methods.

Reporter genes.


Cell-labeling methods.

Cell sorting.

Section 2: Major model organisms.

6 Model organisms.

The big six.

Availability and cost.

Access and micromanipulation.

Genetics and genome maps.

Relevance and tempo.

7 Xenopus.

Oogenesis, maturation, fertilization.

Embryonic development.

Experimental methods.

Regional specification.

Inductive interactions.

8 The zebrafish.

Normal development.


Regional specification.

9 The chick.

Normal development.

Regional specification of the early embryo.

Description of organogenesis in the chick.

10 The mouse.

Mammalian fertilization.

Normal embryonic development.

Technology of mouse development.

Regional specification in development.

Other topics in mouse development.

11 Drosophila.


Normal development.

Drosophila developmental genetics.

Overview of the developmental program.

The dorsoventral pattern.

The anteroposterior system.

12 Caenorhabditis elegans.

Normal development.

Regional specification in the embryo.

Analysis of postembryonic development.

Programmed cell death.

Section 3: Organogenesis.

13 Tissue organization and stem cells.

Types of tissue.

Tissue renewal.



Hematopoietic system.

14 Development of the nervous system.

Overall structure and cell types.

Anteroposterior patterning of the neural plate.

Dorsoventral patterning of the neural tube.

Neurogenesis and gliogenesis.

The neural crest.

Development of neuronal connectivity.

15 Development of mesodermal organs.

Somitogenesis and myogenesis.

The kidney.

Germ cell and gonadal development.

Limb development.

Heart and blood vessels.

16 Development of endodermal organs.

Normal development.

Determination of the endoderm.

The pancreas.

17 Drosophila imaginal discs.


Genetic study of larval development.

Mitotic recombination.

Disc development.

Regional patterning of the wing disc.

Section 4: Growth, regeneration, and evolution.

18 Growth, aging, and cancer.

Size and proportion.

Growth in stature.


Postnatal disorders of growth and differentiation.

19 Regeneration of missing parts.

Distribution of regenerative capacity.

Planarian regeneration.

Vertebrate limb regeneration.

20 Evolution and development.


The primordial animal.

What really happened in evolution?

Appendix: Key molecular components.


Transcription factor families.

Signaling systems.

Inducing factor families.


Cell adhesion molecules.

Extracellular matrix components.



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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2006


    Are you studying and working in the area of developmental biology of animals? If you are, this book is for you! Author J. M. W. Slack, has written an outstanding 2nd edition of a book about basic ideas and facts of modern developmental biology of animals. Slack, begins with an overview of modern biological research and how the mechanisms of development are very simple for animals, including humans. Then, he explains how the structure of organisms changes over time. The author continues by discussing how all of the genes in the genome have functions that are specifically concerned with development. In addition, he also discusses why it was the experimental embryologists who gave most thought to mechanism. The author also considers a further set of techniques that are derived from cell and molecular biology, but that have particular relevance to the study of development. Then, the author focuses on a very small number of animal species which are often described as model organisms. Next, he explores the experimental production of Xenopus. Then, the author focuses on the zebrafish-specific features rather than repeating the description of the common features. Next, he reviews the visible course development of the chick, and how it is superficially very different from the lower vertebrates and is much closer to the mammalian type. The author continues by describing how the developmental biology of the mouse has depended to a much greater extent on genetic manipulation. He also discusses why the first organism whose development was understood in molecular detail was the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster. In addition, he also discusses Caenorhabditis elegans, which is a small, free-living soil nematode and has been used for developmental biology research since the 1960s. Next, he deals with the chief tissue types found in the vertebrate body with special attention to their cellular renewal. Then, the author explores the enormous overall complexity of the vertebrate nervous system. Next, he discusses why the invertebrate mesoderm does not show the same regional subdivision as vertebrate mesoderm. The author continues by describing how the endoderm is the innermost of the three germ layers formed during gastrulation. He also discusses the metamorphosis of Drosophila imaginal discs. In addition, he explores the overall growth, aging and the development of cancer in cells. Next, the author discusses the ability to regrow missing body parts. Finally, the author discusses the interface between developmental biology and evolutionary biology. Special attention has been given to keeping this most excellent book compact and concise. New findings in the evolving fields of stem cells, regeneration, and aging should make this book attractive to a wide range of readership.

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