John Tyler Bonner

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  • Born: May 12, 1920
  • Nationality: American
  • Profession: Biologist

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John Tyler Bonner is an emeritus professor, now lecturer with the rank of professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University. He is a pioneer in the use of cellular slime molds to understand evolution and development over a career of 40 years and is one of the world's leading experts on cellular slime moulds. Arizona State University says that the establishment and growth of developmental-evolutionary biology owes a great debt to the work of Bonner’s studies. His work is highly readable and unusually clearly written and his contributions have made many complicated ideas of biology accessible to a wide audience.

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Any object, whether animate or inanimate, will have a size. Airplanes, boats, or musical string instruments vary in size just like animals and plants, and in all cases, their size and their material construction are totally different matters even though they affect one another.
As in all of biology, comparative studies showing differences among species are often helpful for a better understanding of the basic mechanisms; with all its advantages, there is a danger of clinging exclusively to one model organism.
Changes in size are not a consequence of changes in shape, but the reverse: changes in size often require changes in shape. To put it another way, size is a supreme regulator of all matters biological. No living entity can evolve or develop without taking size into consideration. Much more than that, size is a prime mover in evolution.
Evolution, cell biology, biochemistry, and developmental biology have made extraordinary progress in the last hundred years - much of it since I was weaned on schoolboy biology in the 1930s. Most striking of all is the sudden eruption of molecular biology starting in the 1950s.
In the seventeenth century, it was held by some that inside a human sperm there was a minute human being - a homunculus - that was planted inside the womb. Development consisted of the miniature homunculus enlarging and passing through birth and on to maturity-just like inflating a balloon.
It is hard to explain the huge variety of diatoms - a microorganism that has 100,000 species - in terms of natural selection.
My prime interests are in evolution and development. I use the cellular slime molds as a tool to seek an understanding of those twin disciplines.
That the role of size has been to some degree neglected in biology may lie in its simplicity. Size may be a property that affects all of life, but it seems pallid compared to the matter which makes up life. Yet size is an aspect of the living that plays a remarkable, overreaching role that affects life's matter in all its aspects. Life
The reason for natural selection's great success is that it provides a satisfying explanation of how evolution might have occurred: individual organisms vary, and if those variations are inherited, the successful ones will survive and propagate and pass down their desirable traits to succeeding generations. Success
The sudden appearance of mushrooms after a summer rain is one of the more impressive spectacles of the plant world.
There are good reasons why natural selection has become widely accepted as an explanation of evolutionary development. When applied to mammals and other large animals, it fits perfectly. But we cannot assume that all evolutionary steps arise from selection, particularly when looking at smaller animals.
When, as an undergraduate, I began experiments on these slime molds in 1940, only one other person, Kenneth Raper, was working on them at that time. In fact, he discovered the model species Dictyostelium discoideum, which is the species used in the majority of the experimental work today. Time ;Work, Workers & The Labor Force