The Struggle of Life: Or the Natural History of Stress and Adaptation
Life emprisons stress and puts it to work. It often does so by symbiosis. Struggle is a property of life. This book presents Life as a struggle to bring the order of Mendel's Laws of heredity. The physical world tends to run out of useful energy like an old-fashioned clock. The secret of Life is, that it brings order where useful energy has gone, by a process called adaptation. This struggle of life so fashions biodiversity at all levels. Many decades of long-term experiments in test-tubes, long-term study of oceans and climates and forest ecosystem research allowed the authors to compare adaptation of life, from submicroscopic nucleotides to huge ecosystems. The sun's atomic clock beats the rhythm of environmental stress. Behaviour, rhythm and architecture were studied and explained at all levels, from molecule to plant or animal and to ecosystems.
All evolution in Life follows pathways of a few steps only, joined by `biological clasps '. A clasp is like a coded biological lock at the end of a chain. A clasp opens or closes each half-path around the DNA helix., A meristem-with-leaf (` leaf-plus') opens or closes the pathway of shoot growth in plants, a ` minimal axis ' allows or blocks branching, perhaps ` homeotic genes ' in animals possess clasps. ` Critical eco-units ' stop or start ecosystem succession. Adaptation to stress requires a change of the code of the lock, that is a changed clasp, and so produces new instructions for new, adapted development. Codes are changed by plasmid transfer in DNA, meristem differentiation in plants, selective activation of seeds and eggs in mini-ecosystems. The sheer number of processes causes development to be complex and fuzzy. The struggle of Life has no mechanical precision. It creates similar but not quite the same, new, unexpected, diverse places for new, diverse structures and organisms to grow.
About the authors
Dr Martial Rossignol is a professional oceanographer who has studied ocean currents, marine biology and fisheries in the Gulf of Guinea and the Caribbean, particularly the interactions between climatic and oceanic circulation, like El Niño in the Pacific and its counterpart, the Guinea stream in the Atlantic. From 1997 to 1994 he was associated with the laboratory for experimental plant morphogenesis in Orsay, where with his wife Dr Line Rossignol he worked on in vitro clones of some plant species and their explants. Prof. Roelof Oldeman studied architecture, ecology and dynamics of tropical trees and rain forests since 1963, and other trees, forests and ecosystems since 1977. Dr Soraya Benzine-Tizroutine worked with M. and L. Rossignol on the genetic aspects of in vitro cultures. Dr Rossignol, Dr Rossignol and Dr Oldeman started cooperating 25 years ago in Cayenne (Fr. Guyana) and Orsay.
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