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From DNA to Diversity: Molecular Genetics and the Evolution of Animal Design Paperback – October 22, 2004

ISBN-13: 978-1405119504 ISBN-10: 1405119500 Edition: 2nd

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From DNA to Diversity: Molecular Genetics and the Evolution of Animal Design + Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 268 pages
  • Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell; 2 edition (October 22, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1405119500
  • ISBN-13: 978-1405119504
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 7.3 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #470,032 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


Sean Carroll, author of one of the books under review and a coauthor of another, has made important contributions to the understanding of evolution and development. From DNA to Diversity, written with two other scientists, is the second edition of a book that has become a classic for students of evolution."

The New York Review of Books, Volume LIII, Number 8

"With almost poetic ease, the authors tell a highly complex story without distorting its scientific substance. The story line goes through the levels of biological hierarchy all the way to the details of gene regulation and emerges with a deeper understanding of biological diversity. In Sean Carroll developmental evolution has found its Darwin."

Gunter Wagner, Yale University<!--end-->

"This book will be an excellent introductory text, exciting newcomers to the field, be they students in biology, or experts in either evolutionary biology or embryology who want to gain an appreciation for the insights developmental genetics is providing into the evolution of animal diversity."

Cliff Tabin, Harvard University Medical School

"From DNA to Diversity is written for a general audience, including undergraduates, with an interest in developmental and evolutionary biology, and it is a joy to read. Using striking examples, the authors summarize the current state of thinking on the interconnectedness between developmental genetics and evolutionary diversification."

Axel Meyer, University of Konstanz; Nature

"This book helps to fill a gap in the teaching of evolutionary theory that arose because developmental biology was not a direct participant in the evolutionary synthesis….This is an outstanding account of the latest findings in molecular developmental biology."

James W. Valentine, Professor Emeritus, University of California, Berkeley

"The authors have done an excellent job of distilling the large and complex literature on molecular genetics that is pertinent to understanding how gene networks evolve... The writing is consistently clear, concise, and engaging. "

Gregory A. Wray, Duke University; Science

"Carroll, Weatherbee, and Grenier have produced a wonderful and exciting introduction to the field of evolutionary developmental biology....Newcomers and aficionados will find this a compelling read."

Martin J. Cohn, University of Florida; Evolution and Development

"...this is one book that everybody should read who wants to know why 'evo-devo' is such a hot topic right now."

Manfred Laubichler, Arizona State University

"From DNA to Diversity can be, and should be read by College and University students as well as scientists out of the field, who want to be informed of what is new and promising in biology."

Jean Deutsch, Universite Phillippe et Marie Curie, Paris; BioEssays

"An engaging style, clear, four-colour illustrations, and up-to-date content all combine to make this text a highly accessible and definitive synthesis of the field."

Ethology, Ecology and Evolution

“This highly technical textbook facilitates learning by its conversational tone, summarization of important points [and] exciting case studies…Beautifully illustrated… this book is a pleasure to read.”
Southeastern Naturalist

Book Description

This extensively revised second edition delves into the latest genetic discoveries, incorporating new coverage of comparative genomics, molecular evolution of regulatory proteins and elements, and microevolution of animal development. An engaging style, clear, four-color illustrations, and up-to-date content all combine to make this book a highly accessible and definitive synthesis of the field. This accessible book builds logically from developmental genetics and regulatory mechanisms to evolution at different genetic morphological levels. It provides in-depth focus on key concepts through well-developed case studies, chapter summaries, references, and a glossary.

More About the Author

SEAN CARROLL is a professor of molecular biology and genetics and an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the University of Wisconsin and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences. He is the author of The Making of the Fittest and Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Easy to read for anyone who is interested in this field.
S. Wang
"Endless Forms Most Beautiful," also by Sean B. Carroll, written more for the college graduate who has taken a little biology.
The Spinozanator
This is one of the bonuses we get for making the extra effort to read the grad-level book.
Edward F. Strasser

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

53 of 54 people found the following review helpful By DR P. Dash on June 16, 2001
Format: Paperback
This is a short (about 200 pages)book, but it really is a fantastic introduction to evolutionary developmental biology. I've had an (amateurish) interest in this for awhile, and Carroll et al really clarify basic principles in the field. It is beautifully illustrated...full color diagrams and photos on almost every page. The basic concept is that there is a limited set of genes (the "toolkit") that control development and evolution throughout the animal kingdom. The basic function of these genes--like the hox genes, sonic hedgehog, ubx, and so forth--is clearly explained, and examples of the evolution of their function by changes in their own, and their target genes, cis-regulatory binding sites are shown. In depth coverage is given naturally to the fruit fly, but other insects also, and this is contrasted to the situation in vertebrate development. A real pleasure to read! Anybody with a college course or two in biology should find it comprehensible. I am absolutely positive this field is going to explode in the coming years, and I am certain that this book will be an inspiration for those who will become involved in it. If you're at all interested in the subject of the molecular mechanisms of evolution...don't hesitate to get this book!
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Edward F. Strasser on November 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
High School, College, Grad School? This book is at the grad school level. Carroll has also written Endless Forms Most Beautiful at the college level and The Making of the Fittest at the high school level. (You can check on "Read all my reviews" to read more about these.)

My own background is this: My formal education in biology consisted of an introductory course in college 40-odd years ago. Since then I've read a lot and in the last two years I've had a very strong interest in molecular and evolutionary biology. (For more info, click on my name, above. My Profile also has a link to my Listmania list of evolution books. Note that you don't have to be a grad student to read this book.)

I read From DNA to Diversity first and it was too much for me. I then read Endless Forms. That was pretty understandable, so I went back to Diversity and found it reasonable clear. I have since read it a third time and I am very fond of it.

Of the thousands of genes involved in the early development of animals, this book concentrates on a few, along with the proteins with which they interact and the various body parts they affect. Special attention is paid to the Hox genes and their insect homologues. Because these have large-scale effects in development, changes in them and in their regulation have profound effects on evolution. I especially enjoyed the section where Carroll combined many bits of information to show us the basic features that must have been present in the first bilaterally symmetric animal, that tiny but promising ancestor of us all. This is one of the bonuses we get for making the extra effort to read the grad-level book.
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42 of 45 people found the following review helpful By on August 4, 2001
Format: Paperback
As a professor of English at a Swedish university I devoted several years to studies of British history of ideas, leading up, eventually, to a book about the general public's reception of Darwin's evolution theory in Mid-Victorian Britain. The subject has fascinated me ever since. I have naturally followed with interest the subsequent debates on evolutionary biology, including its philosophical implications, in the pages of such journals as Science and Nature. Therefore the title of the present book appealed to me. It seemed to promise an introduction to aspects of the Darwinian theory which were certainly unknown to Darwin and his times. At the same time I realised that knowing more about genetics was a must for me, if I was to keep abreast of the debate about Darwin.
I must confess I found it hard to assimilate the text, in spite of a clear style, and excellent illustrations. The sheer weight of unfamiliar facts and concepts made the reading laborious, to the point of exhaustion. But about half-way through the book (and helped by excursions into some undergraduate biological textbooks) I found that I had after all assimilated enough of the content to see that , for instance, the geneticist's seemingly perverse interest in the banana fly, Drosophila melanogaster, was indeed a rational choice. Many of the basic genes of the banana fly, especially those responsible for the early development of the fertilized egg onwards, are the same, or nearly so, as those that build up man. Not only are individual genes similar: their interactions with each other and their functions are also similar.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By The Spinozanator VINE VOICE on September 5, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We have about 25,000 genes. Some of these are "tool kit" genes that we share with all other animals. They evolved well before the Cambrian explosion over 540 million years ago from a bilaterally symmetrical common ancestor. Almost exact counterparts are found in apes and mice, and close counterparts in arthropods and worms. Next to most genes is a stretch of so-called "junk DNA" that does not code for genes. These DNA segments contain from three to twenty (or more) switches that collectively turn that gene on or off. The switches are activated or repressed by the differing concentration gradients of the protein products of other genes produced by neighboring cells. By virtue of the servo-feedback loops creating unique combinations of the protein products of tool kit genes, cells of the early embryo create a geographical map of their future body.

An escalating orchestra of domino effects builds complexity, each new development affecting the others. The tool kit genes and the other core genes that control biochemical function from bacteria to man are resistant to mutation. Novelty and speciation comes from the infinite variety of changes that come from the readily mutable genetic switches - allowing for changes in a segment without mortally wounding the rest of the animal. Not a single biologist 40 years ago would have predicted these discoveries.

The exciting developments of evo-devo have sent jolts of electricity through the evolutionary community. Nothing basic has been overturned; much has been enhanced. For example: It used to be thought that eyes had evolved independently many, many times - after all, the lumps of light sensitivity in primitive wormlike creatures, the compound eyes of insects, and the eyes of mammals have more differences than commonalities.
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