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A new title of the Catàlisi collection discovers how and why embryonic development conditions our evolution

Book cover.

Book cover.



On Monday October 24 at 19.30 h, in Alibri bookstore (C/ Balmes, 26, Barcelona), the book presentation of L’embrió inconformista. Com influeix en la nostra evolució el desenvolupament embrionari will take place. The authors of the book, who will participate in the event, are Jordi Garcia-Fernàndez, director of the Department of Genetics, Microbiology and Statistics of the University of Barcelona, and David Bueno, professor of the same department and director of the Catàlisi collection.

The book talks about the contribution of a new discipline called evo-devo (evolution and development) to understand the evolutionary processes on animals, including our species.

Embryos are the key of evolution and natural selection. Evolution and the embryonic development are a biological resistant and flexible alliance. This is the study field of evo-devo, a new scientific discipline that gathers the knowledge of the evolution of the species and the embryonic development together –reason enough to have a specific informative article. It has given many surprises to researchers and has allowed answering questions that the theory of evolution has put out there. The evolution of animals depends on their embryos, or the undergoing changes in the genes that control the development. 

The book is divided into two parts. The first one talks about the “tool box” of evo-devo, cell, genetic and molecular processes that created the animal diversity with the same set of tools and basic raw material. The first chapter has a brief introduction to this scientific discipline, where they justify the importance of relating biology studies of development to evolution studies. In the second, third and fourth chapters they talk about some basic concepts of genetics and embryology, which allow understanding the examples of evo-devo, such as why fish don’t have legs and why humans have arms and legs, among many cases, to understand the evolution of embryonic development. Finally, the fifth chapter talks about the big paradox of evo-devo: how can it be that with a genetic tool box shared among all animals, there is this current diversity and there was an earlier one, and one that might appear in the future?

In the second part of the book there are detailed explanations, in an entertaining way and scientific rigour, of some specific cases, selected from all the available ones on the scientific bibliography to share global understanding of how evolutionary and development mechanisms have created all the current animal diversity, including humans, from this shared tool box.

It is, therefore, a journey to our embryonic and evolutionary origins, a scientific approach to the old question “where do we come from? –and how did we get here?”

The Catàlisi collection by Publications and Editions of the University of Barcelona is an editing initiative aimed to show, in an informative and rigorous way, a wide range of themes of current science proposed by researchers that bring scientific knowledge closer to society. The main aim of this collection is to promote the access to the scientific culture for the specialized and non-specialized public, since science has an important impact in all areas of our life: from the most current objects to the way of seeing and understanding the world. From this perspective, Catàlisi is a point of reference for the knowledge socialization and for the task of sharing the research that is carried out t universities, a public service obligation that deserves special recognition.

Created in 2007, this collection has edited twenty titles, some of them in Catalan and Spanish, and lots of them available on eBook. With a wide range of themes and the will to treat the most common topics, these works are creators of interesting debates among the scientific community and public opinion. One of the latest titles, La ciència en la literatura, by Xavier Duran, has been awarded with the Critic Award “Serra d’Or” on Research (Other Sciences), and the author of La saviesa combinada, professor of the UB and president of the Institute for Catalan Studies, Joandomènec Ros, has been awarded the Saint George’s Cross.

Jordi Garcia-Fernàndez (Barcelona, 1963), with a doctorate in Biology, is professor of Genetics at the University of Barcelona, where he directs the Department of Genetics, Microbiology and Statistics. He was a researcher at the University of Oxford and is honorary professor at the Merton College. Author of more than a hundred articles, some of them published in scientific journals with high impact such as Nature, he was awarded the Distinction of Generalitat de Catalunya for the Promotion of University Research, which is given to young researchers, and an Icrea Academy Award by the Catalan Institution for Research and Advanced Studies. Pioneer in Spain for evo-devo, L’embrió inconformista is his first disseminating work.

David Bueno i Torrens (Barcelona, 1965), with a doctorate in Biology, is professor of Genetics at the University of Barcelona. His professional and academic career is focused on the genetics of development and neuroscience, and their relationship with human behaviour. He was a researcher at the University of Oxford and has temporarily been in several European and American research centers. He has published sixty scientific articles in specialized journals as well as in disseminating books and essays. Co-author of several teaching and encyclopaedic works, he usually collaborates with communication media (El Punt Avui, Ara, Ràdio 4). In 2010 he won the “General Study” Award of European Commission’s Science Communication Prize.


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