The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 53: 651 - 651 (2009)

Vol 53, Issue 5-6

Special Issue: Pattern Formation

Preface to Pattern Formation Special Issue

Open Access | Published: 19 June 2009

Cheng-Ming Chuong and Michael K. Richardson

Department of Pathology, Univ. Southern California, Los Angeles, USA.


Patterns are orders embedded in randomness; they may appear in spatial arrangements or in temporal sequences, and each element may appear identical or with variations. Patterns exist in the physical world as well as in living systems. In the biological world, patterns can range from simple to complex, forming the basic building blocks of life. When we see patterns in peacock feathers, leopard spots or zebra stripes, we are fascinated by the order, the variations and the beauty. The process that generates this ordering in the biological world has been termed Pattern Formation. Since Lewis Wolpert promoted this concept four decades ago, scientists from molecular biology, developmental biology, stem cell biology, tissue engineering, theoretical modeling and other disciplines have made remarkable progress towards understanding its underlying mechanisms. We have learned that both molecular processes and physico-chemical principles are important for biological Pattern Formation and as Guest Editors, felt that it is time to review and re-integrate our understanding of this fundamental and fantastic process.


preface, pattern formation

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