How does an embryo develop its overall form?
How does each cell know whether it is to become a eye cell or a leg cell?
How does a cell know when to stop growing and stop reproducing?

Morphogenetic field

In this short clip of a frog embryo developing we see an electric field map out the eventual location of the frog’s spinal cord, brain and eyes and then watch the cellular development follow this plan.

Note that the initial electric field appears self-organising and precedes the physical rearrangement of cells that support it, i.e. the ‘plan’ precedes the cellular rearrangement.

Michael Levin expands upon this idea in this truly astonishing interview.

The interviewer makes the remark that this provides “convincing proof that DNA has very little to do with the final form of the frog.”

Endogenous Bioelectric Networks & Regenerative Medicine – Michael Levin

Levin covers similar ground as in the video above but with some variations and some brief comments on cancer.

The idea being that a cell will adjust its size, shape and function somewhat according to where it is located in the body and it learns about this from neighbouring cells.

If communication with the rest of the organism is impaired, the cell simply keeps on doing what it does best, which is to grow and reproduce.

The blood in chick embryos is seen to be circulating before the heart has been formed and vortices are observed in the blood in between pulses.

It increasingly is recognized that intracardiac blood flow patterns play a key epigenetic role in the heart’s embryonic morphogenesis“” – Branko Furst

Rupert Sheldrake applies acoustic vibrations to a drop of water and watches it assume a shape typical shape of insect larvae.

Related pages: The cell as a cymatic resonator Branko Furst The Heart is not a Pump


Bioelectrical approaches to cancer as a problem of the scaling of the cellular self

Electromagnetic communication between cells through tunnelling nanotubes

Vascular remodelling of the mouse yolk sac requires hemodynamic force
Authors: Jennifer L. Lucitti, Elizabeth A. V. Jones, Chengqun Huang, Ju Chen, Scott E. Fraser, Mary E. Dickinson

Intracardiac fluid forces are an essential epigenetic factor for embryonic cardiogenesis
Authors: Jay R Hove 1, Reinhard W Köster, Arian S Forouhar, Gabriel Acevedo-Bolton, Scott E Fraser, Morteza Gharib

Reading and Writing the Morphogenetic Code – Michael Levin
Foundational White Paper of the Allen Discovery Center at Tufts University