The Rebirth of the Morphogenetic Field as an Explanatory Tool in Biology
Oživljavanje koncepta morfogenetskog polja u objašnjenjima u biologiji
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I discuss two uses of the concept of the morphogenetic field, a tool of the 19th century biology motivated by particular ontological views of the time, which has been re-emerging and increasingly relevant in explaining microbiological phenomena. I also consider the relation of these uses to the Central Dogma of modern biology as well as Modern Synthesis of Darwinism and genetics. An induced morphogenetic field is determined by a physical (e.g., gravitational) field, or it acquires a physical (e.g., visco-elastic) field’s characteristics. Such a morphogenetic field presents only a weak challenge to the Central Dogma of Modern Synthesis by indirectly, albeit severely, constraining variability at the molecular level. I discuss explanations that introduce structural inheritance in ciliate protozoa, as well as the experimental evidence on which these arguments are based. The global cellular morphogenetic field is a unit of such inheritance. I discuss relevant cases of structural... inheritance in ciliates that bring about internal cellular as well as functional changes and point out that DNA is absent in the cortex and that RNA controls neither intermediary nor the global level of the field. I go on to argue that utilizing knowledge of known physical fields may advance explanations and understanding of the morphogenetic field in ciliates as the unit of both development and inheritance.