Biosemiotics 9 (1):51-60 (2016)

Developmental biology is a theory of interpretation. Developmental signals are interpreted differently depending on the previous history of the responding cell. Thus, there is a context for the reception of a signal. While this conclusion is obvious during metamorphosis, when a single hormone instructs some cells to proliferate, some cells to differentiate, and other cells to die, it is commonplace during normal development. Paracrine factors such as BMP4 can induce apoptosis, proliferation, or differentiation depending upon the history of the responding cells. In addition, organisms have evolved to alter their development in response to differences in temperature, diet, the presence of predators, or the presence of competitors. This allows them to develop the phenotype, within the limits imposed by the genotype, best suited for the immediate habitat of the organism. Most developing organisms have also evolved to expect developmental signals from symbionts, and these organisms develop abnormally if the symbiont signals are not present. Thus Hoffmeyer’s “vertical semiotic system” of genetic communication and “horizontal semiotic system” of ecological communication are integrated during development.
Keywords Ecological developmental biology  Symbiosis  Plasticity  Microbiome
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s12304-016-9257-4
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 62,577
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Organisers and Genes.C. H. Waddington - 1941 - Philosophy of Science 8 (3):463-463.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Inherited Representations Are Read in Development.Nicholas Shea - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (1):1-31.
The Genotype/Phenotype Distinction.Richard Lewontin - 2008 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

A Niche for the Genome.Karola Stotz & Paul Griffiths - 2016 - Biology and Philosophy 31 (1):143-157.
Development, Evolution, and Adaptation.Kim Sterelny - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (3):387.
Molecular and Developmental Biology.Paul Edmund Griffiths - 2002 - In Peter Machamer & Michael Silberstein (eds.), The Blackwell Guide to the Philosophy of Science. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers. pp. 252-271.


Added to PP index

Total views
14 ( #705,788 of 2,446,589 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #456,908 of 2,446,589 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes