Reviews

"Growth and Replication of Cells and Other Living Organisms. Fundamental Physical Mechanisms that Govern Nature's Evolvement"

 

Chief of Molecular Medicine Branch A.N. Schechter, NIDDK (National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease), Editor of “Perspectives in Biology and Medicine

 

“I find the thesis you advance to be very interesting in general.” “It seems to me that several of your areas … may be a solution to the general conundrum for those cells that do not undergo cell division, etc-may indeed be novel”.

Piotr H. Pawlowski, Ph. D.

Institute of Biochemistry and Biophysics, PAS
Pawinskiego 5a, 02-106 Warszawa, Poland

  

Shestopaloff ‘s Fundamental Physical Mechanisms that Govern

Nature’s Evolvement

 

Since Newton's generalization of Kepler's Laws each universalisation in science is truly welcome as potentially important contribution to the progress of human knowledge. In present biology general ideas come into prominence especially there, where the reductionistic era of detailed invesigations gives its place to the era of holistic approach. This modern kind of thinking is certainly represented by Dr. Yuri Shestopaloff in his book entitled “Growth and Replication of Cells and Other Living Organisms”. Here the growth and replication of living organisms is set free from overwhelming genetic and biochemical context with purely biological boundaries. What does he propose instead? - Physical perspective. 

According Shestopaloff' s hypothesis the leading role in the growth and replication processes belongs to the difference in growth rates of the cell’s membrane surface, and the cell’s volume. The cell stops growing at “equating size” when the relative growths of the surface and volume become equal. This surface – volume growth mechanism, which couples membrane’s carrying capacity with the needs of the cell’s biomass, is presented as universal physical placeholder of the overall growth process. Author formalizes these ideas by a general mathematical formula of the growth of living organisms. His thesis discussed in a very interesting dialectical manner and supported by experimental results on Amoeba growth, development of trophectodermal cells in pigs’ blastocysts and cellularization of the syncytial blastoderm of Drosophila are worth publishing.

The main advantage of proposed theory is that it allows for geometrization of the model of growth and development of cells and living organisms. It is well known how fruitful was geometrization of  Newton's "force of gravity" performed by Einstein. Similary, Shestopaloff shows that geometry of growing organisms is an important component of biospace, a “ force” which universally shapes the growth of biological cells and all species in general. He simply demonstrates how specific geometrical relationships between the surface and volume may determine the growth rate. Sphere, disk, cone, frustum cone and cylinder–like cells are the main actors of this spectacle. We learn for instance, why E. coli cells evolutionary acquired a cylindrical shape. Simple answer given by Shestopaloff is that “among all elongated shapes this one provides the fastest growth and consequently the shortest replication cycle”. Author also answers why sphere-like cells should not vary much in size regardless of how rich in nutrients the environment is? He writes: “… the more prolonged is the shape of a cell, the less size restrictions are imposed to the cell’s growth by the surface-volume growth mechanism”. What it has to be stressed - all of these findings result from one simple equation postulated by Shestopaloff.

One may argue that life is not so simple. From Shestopaloff' s perspective, it exactly is. What he successfully did in the discussed work is logical holistic arrangement of physical and biological puzzles to reveal the landscape of Living Nature more informative than mixed up pieces.

Reviewed book is well written reading-matter for all people interesting in physical basis of life, without rich mathematical experience. It is also carrying some dose of philosophical reflections about science as it. It may be recommended as valuable lecture especially for students and scientists working in the area of biology and biophysics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Last modified: 04/25/15