J. S. Huxley part 2: Volvox

Last time, I wrote about Julian Huxley’s 1912 book, The Individual in the Animal Kingdom, and his use of the volvocine algae as an example. I liked most of what he had to say, though I took issue with his assertion that

…all the other members of the family except Volvox…are colonies and nothing more—their members have united together because of certain benefits resulting from mere aggregation, but are not in any way interdependent, so that the wholes are scarcely more than the sum of their parts.

This is, of course, a matter of how we define a multicellular organism, but I think any definition that excludes, for example, Eudorina, is not a very useful one.

This time, I’ll look at the rest of what Huxley had to say about the volvocine algae, most of which is about Volvox:

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J. S. Huxley part 1: Gonium

Julian Huxley was one of the biologists responsible for the merging of Mendelian genetics and Darwinian evolution in the early 20th century, the modern synthesis. His most influential work was Evolution: The Modern Synthesis, published in 1942. Thirty years earlier, though, he published a book on biological individuality, The Individual in the Animal Kingdom. Thankfully, the copyright on this book has expired, so it is now part of the public domain, and a scanned version is available for free in pdf and epub versions from Google.

Huxley Cover

Any book with Volvox on the cover can’t be all bad!

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Surviving Trump

For a firsthand account of how it feels to be a Mexican scientist in Trump’s America, check out Surviving Trump, a new blog by María Rebolleda Gómez. This is just an excerpt; the whole thing is worth a read:

Of all of the crazy things these week, the refugee crisis ban has been one of the most painful. Restrictions on immigration feel personal. I was raised by an amazing community of refugees: my grandparents left Spain during the civil war as kids, they found refuge in Mexico and for that they deeply loved the country. Friends of the family ran away from persecution during the Chilean and Argentinian dictatorships: These are professors in high schools and public universities, doctors, artists and journalists. They have deeply contributed to Mexico’s city life and society and keep giving their hearts and work to the country that opened its doors for them. In Minneapolis, I lived in a neighborhood with a majority of Somali refugees. Kind neighbors, and a lovely community to be part of. The ban on refugees (on holocaust remembrance day!!!!!) is harmful for the the people that thought they had a home, and the country as a whole.

The Volvox 2017 website is live

volvoxwebheader_3_orig

The website for the Volvox 2017 conference is up at www.volvox2017.org. Registration isn’t open yet, but there’s some information about the venue, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center in St. Louis. The meeting is set for August 16-19, 2017.

The goal of the International Volvox Conference is to bring together international scientists working with Volvox and its relatives (aka Volvocales or volvocine algae). We cordially invite experimentalists and theorists interested in these fascinating organisms.

I’ll keep you posted!