DDCB: 1997 FallNewsleter
This Newsletter by Section
Message from the Chair
John P. Wourms
I am composing this message in the waning days of August while contemplating this
summer's efforts in research, writing and attendance at conferences and also preparing for
the fall semester. Traditionally, this is a time of taking stock and looking toward the
future. The June issue of American Zoologist contained the proceedings of our 1995
symposium, "Forces in Developmental Biology Research: Then and Now" organized by
Louise Luckenbill-Edds. Several more of our symposia should be appearing soon. The task
ahead of us, and it is a pleasant one, is to prepare for the SICB 1998 Annual Meeting in
Boston, Jan. 3-7, 1998. Except for a few comments on the meeting, most of the newsworthy
items will be found in the accompanying reports of our secretary and program chair. I also
look forward to working with Scott Gilbert, our new chair-elect.
Before the SICB 1998 Annual Meeting begins, there will be a pre-meeting of a new group,
the Julia B. Platt Club, on Jan. 2. This group is being established to provide a forum for
evolutionary morphology and development. Our meeting date was changed from late December
to January to avoid conflict with family celebrations of the holiday season. I encourage
all members to attend the meeting. There are no excuses now.
Boston, which has long been a center for intellectual and scientific activity, is a
fine site for a meeting. An outstanding program has been planned. Our division is
sponsoring or co-sponsoring several symposia. There are at least four symposia that will
be of interest to cell developmental biologists: "Comparative Embryology of
Myogenesis," "Evolution of
the Steroid/Thyroid/Retinoic Acid Receptor Family," "Aquatic Organisms,
Terrestrial Eggs: Early Development at the Water's Edge," and "Development and
Evolutionary Perspectives on Major Transformations in Body Organization."
There will be a number of contributed paper sessions sponsored by divisions and also
several interdivisional sessions, one of which is "Reproduction and Life
Cycles." Encourage fellow faculty and graduate students to attend. The SICB Annual
Meeting provides a unique forum where individuals interested in cell developmental
biology, comparative embryology and evolutionary developmental biology can gather and
The past two years have been marked by the passing of many members of the Old Guard.
Their memorial notices have appeared in these pages and elsewhere. Because I knew one and
studied with the other, I have been affected by the deaths of N.J. Berrill and Keith
Porter. Neither was active in SICB, but through their research activities and scholarly
accomplishments, they had a profound effect in shaping the field of cell and developmental
biology. One is saddened by the loss of friends, mentors and role models. Some consolation
can be found in the knowledge that their spirits live on in the rich intellectual legacy
that they bequeathed us.
Message from the Program Officer
Billie J. Swalla
Greetings from the DDCB Program Officer!
It's the time of year that we are very busy scheduling symposia and contributed papers
for the upcoming SICB 1998 Annual Meeting in Boston, Jan. 3-7, 1998. We thank you all for
sending in your abstracts on time.
This year promises to be a great meeting for DDCB. We received nearly three times the
number of contributed papers that we had last year. DDCB is co-sponsoring two symposia and
the symposium organizers Judy Venuti, Lennart Olsson and Brian Hall have been working very
hard all summer, communicating with speakers and obtaining funding. In addition, Damhnait
McHugh at Harvard University and Ken Halanych at Rutgers University are organizing an
additional symposium on "Evolutionary Relationships of Metazoan Phyla: Advances,
Problems and Approaches" (Jan. 5-6), which will have a number of speakers also
interested in evolution of body plans. Look up the speakers on the SICB Web site: http://www.sicb.org.
Be sure to thank these symposia organizers for their efforts when you see them in
Boston. In addition, we would like to thank the speakers who have committed to
participating even if not fully funded. I think it underlines the fact that we do our
science well because we love our work, and we continually seek new ideas and interactions.
I know this will be a productive and exciting meeting for all who attend it and I hope to
see you there! Enjoy.
Message from the Secretary
Charles H. Ellis, Jr.
There is little new to report since the spring. The division membership is currently
listed as 201, placing us only fifth among the ten SICB divisions. As our molecular
approaches bring us back to important comparative and evolutionary questions, the field's
paradigm shift ought to make our division attractive to new members. Of course it is we,
the current members, who must make our colleagues and students aware of what we can offer
as a community of integrative developmental biologists. Our symposia for the Boston
meeting are concrete examples of what we offer that is often lacking in other more
specialized venues. Each of us should try to attend, to bring our students to the meeting,
and to interest colleagues in joining us.
Next spring, we will hold elections for two officer positions as Billie Swalla and I
progress toward the ends of our respective terms. The Nominating Committee will be
appointed at or after the SICB 1998 Annual Meeting, but I am sure that John Wourms would
welcome advance suggestions for potential candidates for program officer-elect and
secretary (or Nominating Committee volunteers - the sure way to control your own fate).
Ballots will be distributed in the spring 1998 newsletter.
I look forward to seeing many of you in January. Bring your concerns and ideas so that
we have a lively business meeting and I will have a lot of items for the minutes. If you
have ideas on how this newsletter space can be made more useful, or if you wish to submit
something to be included in these pages, please contact me.
Three New Books
Charles H. Ellis, Jr., DDCB Secretary
In recent months two major new books have been published, each in its own way providing
a new look at comparative and evolutionary issues in development. Also a new edition of
one of the major developmental biology textbooks came out during the summer. These three
works certainly speak to the integrative and comparative aspect of our science.
Described in flyers as the first comparative embryology textbook in a century,
Embryology: Constructing the Organism, edited by Scott Gilbert and Anne Raunio provides
up-to-date descriptive and experimental information on the development of nearly every
major invertebrate and vertebrate group. The chapter authors, many of whom are or have
been active in SICB, also examine evolutionary implications of the developmental patterns
discussed. This text is aimed toward an undergraduate course and is published by Sinauer
Another book that brings forth the information and ideas involved in the developmental
paradigm shift is Cells, Embryos and Evolution by John Gerhart and Marc Kirschner. It was
given a detailed review by Tony Mahowald in Science (vol 277: 772-773, August 8, 1997).
The book focuses on the conservation of developmental mechanisms, among them cell surface
- matrix interactions and signaling systems, relating them to development of body plans
across the phyla. The publisher is Blackwell Science.
We are all familiar with one of the favorite current texts, Developmental Biology, by
Scott Gilbert. Scott has revised and updated it as the fifth edition, published once again
by Sinauer Associates. In addition to the book's detailed coverage of all the key areas of
developmental biology, Scott has made even more information and graphics available on the
Web site http://zygote.swarthmore.edu.
I would be happy to receive word of other relevant new books to include in future
Scott Gilbert Chosen as Chair-Elect
The results of the election for chair-elect were tabulated by the SICB office in June;
Scott F. Gilbert of Swarthmore College was elected to serve as chair-elect in 1998 and
lead DDCB in 1999-2000. In the balloting, Scott and Andy Cameron were separated by only a
few votes. We were lucky to have such strong candidates, both of whom are so committed to
DDCB and the integrative aspects of cellular developmental biology.
DDCB Co-Sponsored Symposia at the SICB 1998 Annual Meeting
Comparative Embryology of Myogenesis
Organized by Judith M. Venuti, Columbia University
January 4, 1998
Mechanisms of Myogenesis in Invertebrates and Non-Mammalian Vertebrates
- Introduction - Judith Venuti
- Michael Krause, NIH - "Regulation of C. elegans Myogenesis by HLH Transcription
Factors; Similarities and Differences to Vertebrate Paradigms"
- Susan Abmayr, Pennsylvania State University - "Muscle Development and
Differentiation in the Drosophila Embryo"
- Judith Venuti, College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University -
"Myogenic Specification and Differentiation in the Sea Urchin Embryo"
- Billie Swalla, Pennsylvania State University - "Maternal Factors and the
Specification of Larval Muscle in Ascidians"
- Ralph Rupp, Max Planck, Institute, Tübingen - "Mechanisms of Myogenic Gene
Regulation in Xenopus Laevis"
- Monte Westerfield, University of Oregon - "Regulation of Muscle Fiber Types in
Zebrafish by Axial Signaling" Mechanisms in Vertebrates - Development of Different
- Introduction to the afternoon session
- Jau-Nian Chen, Massachusetts General Hospital - "Cardiogenesis in Zebrafish"
- Eric Olson, University of Texas Southwestern - "Regulatory Pathways Controlling
- Andrew Lassar, Harvard University - "Regulatory Mechanisms That Control the
Formation of Skeletal and Cardiac Muscle in Vertebrate Embryos"
- Charles Ordahl, University of California at San Francisco - "Myogenesis in the
- Michael Rudnicki, McMaster University - "Myf5 and MyoD and the Regulation of
Determination and Differentiation of Vertebrate Muscle"
- William Klein, MD Anderson Cancer Center - "Using Myogenin-Null Mice to Investiga
te Skeletal Muscle Development"
Development And Evolutionary Perspectives on Major Transformation in Body Organization
Organized by Lennart Olsson, Uppsala University, and Brian K. Hall, Dalhousie
University January 7, 1998
Major Transformations in the Origin of Body Plans
- Introduction - Lennart Olsson and Brian Hall
- Douglas Erwin, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution - "The
Origin of Body Plans"
- Gregory Wray, SUNY at Stony Brook - "The Origin and Diversification of Echinoderms:
New Roles for Old Genes"
- Linda Holland, University of California at San Diego - "How the Vertebrates
got Their Segments: The View from Amphioxus"
- Seb Shimeld, Department of Zoology, The University of Reading, U.K. - "Major Genes,
Amphioxus and Vertebrate Origins" Major Transformations in Arthropods
- Sean Carroll, University of Wisconsin - "Hox Genes and the Evolution of Animal
- Grace Panganiban, University of Wisconsin - "Genetic Control of Limb Development in
- Terri Williams, University of Texas at Austin - "Morphogenesis and Evolution of
- Diethard Tautz, University of München, Germany - "Patterning in Insects and
Major Transformations in Vertebrate Limbs
- Michael Coates, University College London, UK - "Paleontological and Developmental
Perspectives on Limb Evolution"
- Cliff Tabin, Harvard Medical School - "Major Genes in Limb Development and
- Günther Wagner, Yale University, New Haven - "Genetic Control of Novel Patterns of