The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 65: 59 - 70 (2021)

Vol 65, Issue 1-2-3

Special Issue: Developmental Biology in Ibero-America - Part 1

Developmental Biology in México

Published: 25 August 2020

Horacio Merchant-Larios*

Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, Instituto de Investigaciones Biomédicas , Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Ciudad de México, México City, México


Contemporary scientific endeavor in México emanates from two great public institutions: the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM) and the Instituto Politécnico Nacional (IPN), founded in 1929 and 1936, respectively. Here, the first research institutes and centers dedicated to various scientific areas were created. Thus, the origin of most laboratories of Developmental Biology in México was like that of other scientific fields. In this article, I have attempted to describe the establishment of a specialized community involved in the understanding of organism development during ontogeny. The use of chick embryos to study heart development was among the first experimental approaches developed in México. Then, a younger group employed chick embryos to study the mechanisms underlying limb development. Various laboratory animal models have been employed, including mouse, rat, rabbit, and recently the naked mole-rat, as well as some wild species, such as sea turtles and bats. Two classical invertebrates, Drosophila melanogaster, and Caenorhadbitis elegans, also form part of the multilayered complex models used by Mexican developmental biologists. My use of animals brought me closer to the pioneer developmental biologists who worked with animal models. Their academic trajectory was more detailed than that of investigators using plant models. However, the pioneering merit and bright contributions of the two groups are on a par, regardless of the biological model. As current scientific knowledge is the sum of individual contributions throughout human history, here I have attempted to describe my suitable experience as a witness to the birth of the fascinating field of developmental biology in my country.


chick embryo, heart, limb, plant

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