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Biomedical Reviews

Natural selection and asymmetry: the points of intersection

George B. Karev


The vast majority of contemporary scientists resolve Wienner's dilemma "to know nothing about everything or to know everything about nothing" in favor of the second possibility. Avalanche-like increase of scientific knowledge urges scientists to operate with an enormous amount of information concentrated in such a narrow field that its area really tends to zero. Sadly as it may sound, the hyperbole "nothing about everything" is often relevant to all branches of their own discipline in whose investigation scientists are not directly engaged. In this respect biology does not make any exception. Several decades ago, it seemed that scientists who study the action of the natural selection and those dealing with cell biology have very little to tell to each other. Fortunately, trends appear in the last decades which permit to throw bridges between these areas. The application of DNA-sequences in examination of phylogenetic relationships is an example in this respect. We believe that asymmetry in man could be another example. Both the symmetry and its "alter ego", asymmetry, are undoubtedly results of the natural selection. On the other hand, the ontogenetic pathways towards bilateral symmetry and the extent of deviations from it are genetically determined at cell and molecular levels. Though complicated, this relationship is so regular that one kind of asymmetry became a measure for the intensity and effectiveness of one of the forms of natural selection.

Biomedical Reviews 1992; 1: 63-68.

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George B. Karev
Medical University of Varna

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