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This book launches a new continuing series in developmental biology. Any new publishing venture in science can only be justified if it satisfies a need and fulfills that need in an exemplary way. I believe that there is an acute need for comprehensive treatises on specialized topics in developmental biology-especially because this is a very diverse field that receives con- tributions from a wide variety of disciplines. It is difficult to remain abreast of progress in multifaceted topics and to understand how the various aspects of a topic interrelate. The volumes that will comprise this series are designed to facilitate those processes. Each volume of this series will attempt to convey the current status of research and thought on a specific topic in development, place current research within historical perspective, and lay the intellectual groundwork for future research. These volumes are intended to provide an in-depth background on these topics for advanced undergraduates, graduate stu- dents, and senior scientists. An investigator considering research in one of these areas will get an overview of the field as well as discover the status of recent research in the area.