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Why Study Sex by the Sea? Marine Organisms and the Problems of Fertilization and Cell Cleavage

Why Study Sex by the Sea? Marine Organisms and the Problems of Fertilization and Cell Cleavage

Chapter:
(p.271) Eleven Why Study Sex by the Sea? Marine Organisms and the Problems of Fertilization and Cell Cleavage
Source:
Why Study Biology by the Sea?
Author(s):
Michael R. DietrichNathan CroweRachel A. Ankeny
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226673097.003.0012

Fertilization and the first divisions of the resulting zygote are fundamental questions in developmental and cell biology. Scientific explorations of these processes in the twentieth century took place almost exclusively at marine stations. In this chapter, we use data from the General Embryological Information Service to map the organismal landscape during the postwar period with particular focus on studies of fertilization and cleavage, before exploring researchers’ choices of marine organisms. Given their role in the description of cell cleavage and the discovery of the acrosome reaction during fertilization, we concentrate on the scientific work of Katsuma and Jean Dan at the Misaki Marine Biological Station in Japan and the MBL at Woods Hole; this history forms a case study that explores themes relating to organismal choice and assumptions about diversity and generalizability. Rather than find the one right organism to investigate fertilization and cleavage and on which to base generalizations about these processes, the Dans deliberately explored a suite of organisms. We argue that these choices went beyond their interests or the accident of organismal availability at the seaside laboratories, but were integrally connected to their development and use of a repertoire associated with this type of research.

Keywords:   Fertilization, Cell Cleavage, Katsuma Dan, Jean Dan

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