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Cytology and evolution. By E. N. Willmer. x + 430 pages illustrated. $10.00. Academic Press Inc. New York. 1960

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CYTOLOGY AND EVOLUTION. By E. N.
430 pages, illustrated.
Willmer. x
$10.00. Academic Press Inc., New York.
1960.
+
The title, although appropriate, is somewhat deceiving because it omits the
fundamental subject. It could better have
been entitled ‘Tissue Culture, Cytology,
and Evolution.” This would have been of
considerable benefit to bibliographers and
reference librarians. The author is well
known among tissue culture enthusiasts.
He is one of the pioneers in the field, is
the author of a small book on technique
which is now in its third edition, and has
published many original contributions.
It is gratifying to find a tissue culture
enthusiast who has the courage to join
Raymond Parker in treating the subject as
a technique rather than a division of science. Unless he has changed his treatment, however, in the new edition of his
book, which I have not seen, Parker is less
venturesome than the author of the book
which we are reviewing. Willmer has
taken the much needed step of probing
philosophically into the implications of
what we have learned from the study of
cells in tissue cultures.
Because of his long association with
living cells in tissue cultures, the author
emphasizes the particular value of this
study as opposed to other analytical
methods. “The results, therefore, obtained
by making extracts of cells or tissues is
not unlike trying to find out the plan of
the practical course in biological chemistry
at a university by applying the most modern and efficient demolition machinery
(cf. the Waring blender) to the biochemical laboratory.”
The critical study of cells in tissue culture provides a first approach to the study
of the living cells of higher animals. The
various modifications of method impose
different conditions on the cells, this in
turn emphasizes the plasticity and vital
qualities of their response. It also points
toward the existence of a limited number
of characteristic qualities and funda-
mental modes of behavior. In developing
his concept of evolutionary cytology, the
author utilizes these factors for comparisons with lower and simpler animal forms.
The first part of the book reviews the
results of tissue cultures. Cells are grouped
into families on the basis of their behavior:
mechanocytes, epitheliocytes, and amebocytes. The behavior and embryology of
so-called simpler animal forms are then
reviewed. Some interesting concepts of
differentiation on the basis of the cell
families are brought out and examples
from many tissues are used for documentation. The final appeal of the author is
for the employment of tissue culture for
analyzing and elucidating some of the
more complicated associations of living
cells in such fields as endocrinology.
There is a subject and an author index
and pertinent references at the ends of
the 19 chapters.
CHARLES MAYO Goss
THE CELL OF SCHWA”.
By Gilbert
120 pages, 40 illustraCausey. xi
tions. $4.75. The Williams and Wilkins Co., Baltimore. 1960.
+
The author has been publishing the results of experimental investigations of the
degeneration and regeneration of nerve
fibers for more than 10 years. It is natural
that his interest in Theodor Schwann and
the cells which are known by his name
should blossom and go on to the fruition
in this very slender book. Also in his own
words, “I have been prompted to write of
this cell because the great advances that
have been made in recent years in the recording of the electrical changes in nerve
fibers need, for their proper evaluation, a
detailed knowledge of the structural relation of this satellite cell to the nerve fiber.
Also, with the increasing use of the electron microscope, clarification of the previous knowledge of the relationship of nerve
fibers to Schwann cells, and of the intimate relation between Schwann cells and
545
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