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Other titles in the Very Short Introductions series:
The Cell: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)by Terence Allen
Synopses & Reviews
The origin of cells remains one of the most fundamental problems in biology, one that over the past two decades has spawned a large body of research and debate. With In Search of Cell History, Franklin M. Harold offers a comprehensive, impartial take on that research and the controversies that keep the field in turmoil.
Written in accessible language and complemented by a glossary for easy reference, this book investigates the full scope of cellular history. Assuming only a basic knowledge of cell biology, Harold examines such pivotal subjects as the relationship between cells and genes; the central role of bioenergetics in the origin of life; the status of the universal tree of life with its three stems and viral outliers; and the controversies surrounding the last universal common ancestor. He also delves deeply into the evolution of cellular organization, the origin of complex cells, and the incorporation of symbiotic organelles, and considers the fossil evidence for the earliest life on earth. In Search of Cell History shows us just how far we have come in understanding cell evolutionand#151;and the evolution of life in generaland#151;and how far we still have to go.
Cell origin remains one of the most fundamental problems in biology, and over the last decade it has spawned a large body of literature and debate. Franklin Harold has synthesized this literature not to promote his own views of cell origin but to impartially present the current research on the topic along with the controversies that keep the field in turmoil. In accessible language that assumes only a basic knowledge of cell biology, he shows how far weand#8217;ve come in understanding cell evolutionand#151;and the origins of life in generaland#151;and how far we have to go before we can completely comprehend it. After introducing cell theory, Harold explores such wide-ranging topics as the construction of a universal tree of life; controversies over the Last Universal Common Ancestorand#8217;s exact nature and place in cell history; the evolution of cellular organization; and the origin and evolution of complex cells. The final chapters of the book explore the early origins of life and the evolutionary implications of cellular evolution.
In this Very Short Introduction, Terrence Allen and Graham Cowling offer an illuminating account of the nature of cells--their basic structure, forms, division, signaling, and programmed death. Allen and Cowling start with the simple "prokaryotic" cell--cells with no nucleus--and show how the bodies of more complex plants and animals consist of billions of "eukaryotic" cells, of varying kinds, adapted to fill different roles--red blood cells, muscle cells, branched neurons. The authors also show that each cell is an astonishingly complex chemical factory, the activities of which we have only begun to unravel in the past fifty years.
About the Author
Terence Allen does research in Cell Structure and Function at the Paterson Institute for Cancer Research, Christie Hospital Manchester. Graham Cowling has been director and teacher at the Medical School, University of Manchester.
Table of Contents
1. Recognising the cell
2. The structure of the cell
3. Cell division, differentiation, and death
4. Special cells for special jobs
5. Stem cells
6. Ethics, politics, and regulation
7. Celluar therapy
8. The future is now
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