In defense of “nonmolecular” cell biology

Guenter Albrecht-Buehler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

69 Scopus citations


This chapter describes the detailed molecular interactions and discusses in more general terms the question of how applicable molecular explanations are to whole-cell functions. It discusses two examples from the field of cell motility, the explanation which does not depend significantly on molecular knowledge. One example derives the fundamental aspects of the mechanical designs of cells showing amoeboid movement, such as 3T3 mouse fibroblasts. The other example describes the emergence of structure and possibly rudimentary intelligence among the colonies of the flagellated algal cells Chlamydomonas. As the cellular functions are derived from large numbers of molecular details, many small errors are accumulated to render meaningless the resulting explanation. The new and sufficient concepts of cell biology must be developed in ways that recognize explicitly the place of cells within the hierarchy of organization of biology that ranges from ecologies to macromolecules.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)191-241
Number of pages51
JournalInternational Review of Cytology
Issue numberC
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Histology
  • Cell Biology

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