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Information as a Manifestation of Development

Author(s): James A. Coffman

Journal: Information
ISSN 2078-2489

Volume: 2;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 102;
Date: 2011;
Original page

Keywords: development | ontogeny | animal | embryo | pattern formation | gene regulation | cell differentiation | epigenesis | preformation | gene regulatory network

Information manifests a reduction in uncertainty or indeterminacy. As such it can emerge in two ways: by measurement, which involves the intentional choices of an observer; or more generally, by development, which involves systemically mutual (‘self-organizing’) processes that break symmetry. The developmental emergence of information is most obvious in ontogeny, but pertains as well to the evolution of ecosystems and abiotic dissipative structures. In this review, a seminal, well-characterized ontogenetic paradigm—the sea urchin embryo—is used to show how cybernetic causality engenders the developmental emergence of biological information at multiple hierarchical levels of organization. The relevance of information theory to developmental genomics is also discussed.

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