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Home > Journals > SCIREA Journal of Health > Archive > Paper Information

Reviewing Ernest Everett Just’s BIOLOGY OF THE CELL SURFACE (1939) and related literature, plus annotated references, hereby advancing evolutionary biology and evolutionary bioethics

Volume 5, Issue 6, December 2021    |    PP. 123-144    |PDF (269 K)|    Pub. Date: November 16, 2021
DOI: 10.54647/pmh33179    7 Downloads     114 Views  

Theodore Walker Jr., Southern Methodist University, Dallas Texas USA

The Biology of the Cell Surface (1939a) by Ernest Everett Just is focused on marine egg cells and egg cell surfaces. By studying egg cells, and cell surface mediated co-operation with sperm and environment, E. E. Just advanced egg cell fertilization and developmental biology, including embryo morphogenesis, ecological developmental (eco-devo) biology, and theory of evolution. According to Just, from cells to humans, development and evolution require co-operative behavior. In developmental biology, Just observed that co-operative behavior is essential to animal development from a single egg cell. In evolutionary biology, Just reasoned that co-operative behavior is essential to evolution from our common unicellular ancestor. And in evolutionary bioethics, Just tied evolutionary biology to evolutionary ethics by reference to evolution from a common unicellular ancestor with cell surface mediated co-operative interactions with the environment. In accordance with the “law of environmental dependence,” evolutionary bioethics must also be environmental bioethics. Even though E. E. Just may have overestimated cell surface influences, he correctly estimated the developmental potence and the evolutionary potence of the whole living cell interacting co-operatively with its life-inspiring environment.

Stammzell, stem cell, common unicellular ancestor, egg cell, cell surface behavior, interaction, co-operation, social instinct, developmental biology, evolutionary biology, evolutionary ethics, evolutionary bioethics, law of environmental dependence, environmental bioethics.

Cite this paper
Theodore Walker Jr., Reviewing Ernest Everett Just’s BIOLOGY OF THE CELL SURFACE (1939) and related literature, plus annotated references, hereby advancing evolutionary biology and evolutionary bioethics, SCIREA Journal of Health. Vol. 5 , No. 6 , 2021 , pp. 123 - 144 . https://doi.org/10.54647/pmh33179


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[ 9 ] Byrnes, W. Malcolm. (2009). “Ernest Everett Just, Johannes Holtfreter, and the Origin of Certain Concepts in Embryo Morphogenesis” in Molecular Reproduction & Development, 76: 912-921, online at http://europepmc.org/article/PMC/3371230. [Abstract- “Ernest E. Just (1883-1941) is best known for his discovery of the "wave of negativity" that sweeps of the sea urchin egg during fertilization, and his elucidation of what are known as the fast and slow blocks to polyspermy. Just's contemporary Johannes Holtfreter (1901-1992) is known for his pioneering work in amphibian morphogenesis, which helped to lay the foundation for modern vertebrate developmental biology. This paper, after briefly describing the life and scientific contributions of Just, argues that his work and ideas strongly influenced two of the concepts for which Holtfreter is best known: tissue affinity and autoneuralization (or autoinduction). Specifically, this paper argues that, first, Just's experiments demonstrating developmental stage-specific changes in the adhesiveness of the blastomeres of cleavage embryos helped lay the foundation for Holtfreter's concept of tissue affinity and, second, Just's notion of the intrinsic irritability of the egg cell, which is evident in experimental parthenogenesis, strongly informed Holtfreter's concept of the nonspecific induction of neural tissue formation in amphibian gastrula ectoderm explants, a phenomenon known as autoinduction. Acknowledgment of these contributions by Just in no way diminishes the importance of Holtfreter's groundbreaking work. It does, however, extend the impact of Just's work into the area of embryo morphogenesis. It connects Just to Holtfreter and positions his work as an antecedent to embryo research that continues to this day.”]
[ 10 ] Byrnes, W. Malcolm. (25 January 2010). “Ernest Everett Just: Experimental Biologist Par Excellence,” via the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, online at https://www.asbmb.org/asbmb-today/people/012510/ernest-everett-just. (Accessed 17 September 2021.)
[ 11 ] Byrnes, W. Malcolm. (December 2013). “The Genius of Ernest Everett Just” in Howard University Graduate School (HUGS) Research Magazine and Graduate School Research Archive, issue 002, online at https://www.researchgate.net/publication/259196977_The_Genius_of_Ernest_Everett_Just. (Accessed 17 September 2021.)[Byrnes’s opening paragraph says: “Ernest Everett Just (1883-1941) was a pioneering African-American embryologist who is best known for his discovery of the fast block to polyspermy, his elucidation of the slow block, and his discovery that the adhesive properties of the cells of the cleavage embryo depend on the particular developmental stage that they are in.”] [accessed 15 December 2020].
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[ 29 ] Hoyle, Fred. (5 February 1949). “Stellar Evolution and the Expanding Universe” in Nature, volume 163, pages 196-198 [doi:10.1038/163196a0].
[ 30 ] Hoyle, Fred and N. Chandra Wickramasinghe. (1981). “Convergence to God” (chapter 9, pages 129-45) in Evolution from Space: A Theory of Cosmic Creationism. New York: Simon and Schuster.
[ 31 ] Jahr, Fritz. (1927). “Bio-Ethics: A Review of the Ethical Relationships of Humans to Animals and Plants.” Kosmos 24: 4 [as cited in (Sass, December 2007)].
[ 32 ] Jenkins, Lillie R. (3 April 2021). “Black Apollo of Science: The Life of Ernest Everett Just - Summarizing Timeline, Sumitography and Concept Poster” (Alternative title: “E. E. Just: Administrative and Fund-seeking Pioneer”), online via SMU Scholar at https://scholar.smu.edu/theology_research/27/. (Accessed 17 September 2021.) [Abstract- “This two-part chronology is based on Kenneth R. Manning’s biography, Black Apollo of Science: The Life of Ernest Everett Just (1983). Like other such timelines, this one details Just’s life and pioneering research work. Additionally, and distinctively, this timetable lays out Just’s pioneering fund-seeking and his work mentoring African American female co-researchers (Part 1). A sumitography featuring the United States Postal Service’s postage stamp (1996) recognizes Just’s innovative thinking in biology (Part 2). Following this logic, the author includes a proof-of-concept poster commending E.E. Just’s work as a forward-thinking administrator. This timeline summarizes, chronicles, and aims to re-frame Just’s two practices, fund-seeking and mentoring African American female scientists; showing that Just’s administrative ideas were, arguably, as path-breaking and far-reaching as his research in marine biology. The concept poster is the first step toward advocacy for the United States Postal Service to issue a second Ernest Everett Just stamp to honor Just’s leading edge administrative initiatives.”]
[ 33 ] Just, Ernest Everett. (1919a). “The fertilization reaction in Echinarachnius parma: I. Cortical response of the egg to insemination” in The Biological Bulletin, 36, 1-10 [(Byrnes 2019)].  
[ 34 ] Just, Ernest Everett. (1919b). “The fertilization reaction in Echinarachnius parma: II. The role of fertilizing in straight and cross fertilization” in The Biological Bulletin, 36, 11-38 [(Byrnes 2019)].  
[ 35 ] Just, Ernest Everett. (1919c). “The fertilization reaction in Echinarachnius parma: III. The nature of the activation of the egg by butyric acid” in The Biological Bulletin, 36, 39-53 [(Byrnes 2019)].  
[ 36 ] Just, Ernest Everett. (1920). “The fertilization-reaction in Echinarachnius parma: IV. A further analysis of the nature of butyric acid activation” in The Biological Bulletin, 39, 280-305 [(Byrnes 2019)].  
[ 37 ] Just, Ernest Everett. (1921). “The susceptibility of the inseminated egg to hypotonic seawater. A contribution to the analysis of the fertilization-reaction” in Anatomical Record, 20, 225-227. [(Byrnes 2019)].  
[ 38 ] Just, Ernest Everett. (1922a). “Initiation of development in the egg of arbacia: I. Effect of hypertonic sea-water in producing membrane separation, cleavage, and top-swimming plutei” in The Biological Bulletin, 43, 384-400. [(Byrnes 2019)].  
[ 39 ] Just, Ernest Everett. (1922b). “Initiation of development in the egg of arbacia: II. Fertilization of eggs in various stages of artificially induced mitosis” in The Biological Bulletin, 43, 401-410. [(Byrnes 2019)]. 
[ 40 ] Just, Ernest Everett. (1922c). “Initiation of development in the egg of Arbacia: III. The effect of Arbacia blood on the fertilization-reaction” in The Biological Bulletin, 43 [(Just 1939b)].  
[ 41 ] Just, Ernest Everett. (1932). “On the Origin of Mutations” in American Naturalist, 66, no. 702: 61-74.
[ 42 ] Just, Ernest Everett. (1933). “Cortical Cytoplasm and Evolution” in American Naturalist, 67 (708), 20-29.
[ 43 ] Just, Ernest Everett. (1937). “The significance of experimental parthenogenesis for the cell-biology of to-day” in Cytologia, Fujii Jubilaei, 540-550. [(Byrnes 2019)].  
[ 44 ] Just, Ernest Everett. ([January] 1939a). The Biology of the Cell Surface. Philadelphia: P Blakiston’s Son [New York: Garland Publishing, 1988 reprint]. [In his Preface, E. E. Just says: “… The book may be divided into three parts. Part I, comprising Introduction, Life and Experiment, Protoplasmic System, Ectoplasm, General Properties of the Ectoplasm and Water, though dealing primarily with the animal egg, embodies principles which concern the fundamental organization of any living thing. Part II, including the Fertilization-process, the Fertilization-reaction, Parthenogenesis, Cell-division and Cleavage and Differentiation, discusses in particular the problems that refer directly to animal eggs in their earliest stages of development. Part III, embracing chapters on the Chromosomes and Ectoplasm, Ectoplasm and Evolution, and Conclusion, has to do with more or less theoretical discussions. In particular, structure and function of the ectoplasm are emphasized, upon these my theory of the state of being alive is in large measure grounded. … E E J Paris France November 1938” (Just 1939a: ix-x)]
[ 45 ] Just, Ernest Everett. ([June] 1939b). Basic Methods for Experiments on Eggs of Marine Animals. Philadelpia: P. Blakiston’s Son.
[ 46 ] Just, Ernest Everett. (April 1940). “Unsolved Problems of General Biology” in Physiological Zoology, 13 (2): 123-42.
[ 47 ] Just, Ernest Everett and Hedwig Schnetzler Just. (October 1941 [July 2020]). The Origin of Man’s Ethical Behavior. [First titled “Ethics and the Struggle for Existence” in April 1941 (Kenneth R. Manning 1983: 327, 385 n12)]. Originally unpublished book manuscript preserved at the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center at Howard University. A 251-page archival edition was transcribed and edited during 2018-2020 by theological ethicist Theodore Walker Jr. and archival researcher Lillie R. Jenkins, with additional co-editing by Walker, Jenkins, and biochemist W. Malcolm Byrnes, in consultation with cell biologist Stuart Newman, historian of science Kenneth R. Manning, historian of religions Charles H. Long, and Moorland-Spingarn curator of manuscripts Joellen ElBashir, and published as The ORIGIN OF MAN’S ETHICAL BEHAVIOR (1941) by ERNEST EVERETT JUST & HEDWIG SCHNETZLER JUST (4 July 2020) in paperback ($11.00) and Kindle (99 cent) formats via Amazon.com.] Also, see Annotated Index and Bibliography to the 251-page archival edition of The ORIGIN OF MAN’S ETHICAL BEHAVIOR (1941) by Ernest Everett Just & Hedwig A. Schnetzler Just: Plus historical notes and manifest (Amazon, 25 July 2020) by Theodore Walker Jr.]
[ 48 ] King, Nicole. (September 2004). “The Unicellular Ancestry of Animal Development” in Developmental Cell, volume 7, pages 313–325, online at https://www.cell.com/developmental-cell/pdf/S1534-5807(04)00288-6.pdf
[ 49 ] Kropotkin, Peter [Petr Alekseyevich Kropotkin]. (1902). Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, edited by Charles Aldarondo. Kindle Edition: Amazon Digital Services, based upon print edition ISBN 1502589664; CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014.
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[ 54 ] Mangal, Mélina; illustrations by Luisa Uribe. (2018). Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just. (LC classification – Juvenile literature [with colorful graphic illustrations and scholarly notes]). Minneapolis: Millbrook Press.
[ 55 ] Manning, Kenneth R. (1983). Black Apollo of Science: The Life of Ernest Everett Just. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
[ 56 ] Manning, Kenneth R. (16 July 2009). “Reflections on E. E. Just, Black Apollo of Science, and the Experiences of African American Scientists” in Molecular Reproduction and Development, 76 (10): 897-902 [https://doi.org/10.1002/mrd.21087]. (Accessed 17 September 2021.) [Abstract – “The text below is a transcript of the keynote address Kenneth Manning gave at the symposium honoring E. E. Just that was held on the campus of Howard University on November 21, 2008. In his talk, Manning reflects on his experiences researching and writing Black Apollo of Science: The Life of Ernest Everett Just, his prize‐winning biography published in 1983. In the process, he retells the fascinating story of the life of E. E. Just. Manning also discusses a number of other topics, including Just's legacy, the role of African Americans in science, and the importance of having minority representation on college campuses.” (Transcribed by: W. Malcolm Byrnes, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Howard University College of Medicine, Washington, DC.) Mol. Reprod. Dev. 76: 897–902, 2009. © 2009 Wiley‐Liss, Inc.]
[ 57 ] Margulis, Lynn. (1981). Symbiosis in Cell Evolution: Life and Its Environment on the Early Earth. San Francisco: W. H. Freeman.
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[ 62 ] Potter, Van Rensselaer. [University of Wisconsin] (1984). “Bioethics and the Human Prospect” (pages 124-137) in The Culture of Biomedicine: Studies in Science and Culture, volume 1, edited by D. Heyward Brock. Newark: University of Delaware Press. [Here Potter calls for “Evolutionary Bioethics” (page 135).]
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[ 64 ] Ramalho-Santos, Miguel, and Holger Willenbring. (7 June 2007). “On the Origin of the Term ‘Stem Cell’” in Cell Stem Cell, volume 1, issue 1, pages 35-28, online at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.stem.2007.05.013. (Accessed 13 September 2021.) [Concerning Ernst Haeckel’s use of the term “Stammzelle” to refer first to our common unicellular ancestor, then to both unicellular ancestor and fertilized egg cell: In “On the Origin of the Term ‘Stem Cell’” (7 June 2007) Miguel Ramalho-Santos and Holger Willenbring say: “The term stem cell appears in the scientific literature as early as 1868 in the works of the eminent German biologist Ernst Haeckel (Haeckel, 1868). Haeckel, a major supporter of Darwin's theory of evolution, drew a number of phylogenetic trees to represent the evolution of organisms by descent from common ancestors and called these trees “Stammbäume” (German for family trees or “stem trees”). In this context, Haeckel used the term “Stammzelle” (German for stem cell) to describe the ancestor unicellular organism from which he presumed all multicellular organisms evolved (Haeckel, 1868, Haeckel, 1874). In the revised 3rd edition of his book Anthropogenie (Haeckel, 1877), Haeckel made one of his characteristic leaps from evolution (phylogeny) to embryology (ontogeny) and proposed that the fertilized egg also be called stem cell. That is, Haeckel used the term stem cell in two senses: as the unicellular ancestor of all multicellular organisms and as the fertilized egg that gives rise to all cells of the organism.”]
[ 65 ] Sass, Hans-Martin. (December 2007). “Fritz Jahr’s 1927 Concept of Bioethics” in Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal, volume 17, number 4, pp. 279-295 [https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18363267/] (Accessed 17 September 2021.)
[ 66 ] Schroeder, Doris. “Evolutionary Ethics” in The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy,  (IEP) (ISSN 2161-0002), online at https://iep.utm.edu/evol-eth/ (Accessed 12 September 2021)
[ 67 ] Shah, Hiral, Gautam Dey and Omaya Dudin. (5 January 2021). “Tracing the History of Animal Origins” is a review of the posted on 10 November 2020 preprint (not yet peer reviewed) of “The Single-Celled Ancestors of Animals: A History of Hypotheses” (5 November 2020) by Thibaut Brunet and Nicole King, in preLights, Preprint Highlights Selected by the Biological Community, online at https://prelights.biologists.com/highlights/the-single-celled-ancestors-of-animals-a-history-of-hypotheses/. (Accessed 18 September 2021.)
[ 68 ] Takahashi Kazutoshi, and Shinya Yamanaka. (25 August 2006). “Induction of pluripotent stem cells from mouse embryonic and adult fibroblast cultures by defined factors” in Cell, volume 126, pages 663-676, online at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2006.07.024. (Accessed 12 September 2021.) [“Summary - Differentiated cells can be reprogrammed to an embryonic-like state by transfer of nuclear contents into oocytes or by fusion with embryonic stem (ES) cells. Little is known about factors that induce this reprogramming. Here, we demonstrate induction of pluripotent stem cells from mouse embryonic or adult fibroblasts by introducing four factors, Oct3/4, Sox2, c-Myc, and Klf4, under ES cell culture conditions. Unexpectedly, Nanog was dispensable. These cells, which we designated iPS (induced pluripotent stem) cells, exhibit the morphology and growth properties of ES cells and express ES cell marker genes. Subcutaneous transplantation of iPS cells into nude mice resulted in tumors containing a variety of tissues from all three germ layers. Following injection into blastocysts, iPS cells contributed to mouse embryonic development. These data demonstrate that pluripotent stem cells can be directly generated from fibroblast cultures by the addition of only a few defined factors.”]
[ 69 ] Tyson, Neil de Grasse and Donald Goldsmith. (2004). Origins: Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution. New York; London: W. W. Norton.
[ 70 ] Walker, Theodore, Jr. (January 2020). “The Bioethical Significance of ‘The Origin of Man’s Ethical Behavior’ (October 1941, unpublished) by Ernest Everett Just and Hedwig Anna Schnetzler Just” in the Journal of the South Carolina Academy of Science, volume 18, issue 1, article 4, online at https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/jscas/vol18/iss1/4. (Accessed 17 September 2021.) [Abstract – “E. E. Just (1883-1941) is an acknowledged “pioneer” in cell biology, and he is perhaps the pioneer in study of egg cell fertilization. Here we discover that Just also made pioneering contributions to general biology and evolutionary bioethics. Within Just’s published contributions to observational cell biology, there are substantial fragments of his theory of ethical behavior, a theory with roots in cell biology. In addition to such previously available fragments, Just’s fully developed theory is now available. This recently discovered unpublished book-length manuscript argues for the biological origins of ethical behavior (evolving from cells to humans, within a living environment, and subject to the “law of environmental dependence”). Contemporary research is starting to catch up to Just. In evolutionary bioethics, Just is the pioneer.”]
[ 71 ] Walker, Theodore, Jr. (February 2020). “Ernest Everett Just (1883-1941): Hero in Cell Biology and in Evolutionary Bioethics” in the Meharry Medical College Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, volume 31, number 1, pages 4-10. | Johns Hopkins University Press. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/hpu.2020.0002, online at http://muse.jhu.edu/article/747768 and at https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32037311/. (Accessed 17 September 2021.) [Abstract– “Ernest Everett Just is celebrated for his contributions to cell biology. Among other firsts, he was first to describe the "wave of negativity" spreading around an egg cell from the entrance point of the fertilizing spermatozoon. His accomplishments in biology are celebrated in Black Apollo of Science (1983) by Kenneth Manning, and by a 1996 Black Heritage postage stamp. What is not yet widely appreciated, however, is that Just connected evolutionary biology to ethical behavior (1933, 1939, 1940). He was probably the first cell biologist to argue that human ethical behavior evolved from our very most primitive cellular origins. Today, Just's contributions to evolutionary bioethics, including "the law of environmental dependence," can be better appreciated because his unpublished book-length manuscript, "The Origin of Man's Ethical Behavior" has been preserved at Howard University's Moorland-Spingarn Research Center.”] [Here is said: “… no doubt, there will someday be a video drama or movie about Just. No doubt, too, that video will include Just’s internment (August 1940) and dramatic escape (early September 1940) from Nazi-occupied France (with rescue help from the well-connected German family of his second wife, Hedwig Schnetzler Just), his return to Howard University (late September 1940), and his death at age 58 from pancreatic cancer on 27 October 1941.”]
[ 72 ] Walker, Theodore, Jr. (29 April 2020). "Interdisciplinary Convergences with Biology and Ethics via Cell Biologist Ernest Everett Just and Astrobiologist Sir Fred Hoyle" (chapter one, pages 11-35) in Panentheism and Panpsychism: Philosophy of Religion Meets Philosophy of Mind Series: Innsbruck Studies in Philosophy of Religion, Volume: 2, edited by Godehard Brüntrup, Benedikt Paul Göcke and Ludwig Jaskolla. Leiden, Netherlands: Mentis Verlag | Brill, 2020. Online at https://brill.com/view/title/55646. (Accessed 17 September 2021.)
[ 73 ] Wickramasinghe, Chandra, editor. (2015). Vindication of Cosmic Biology: Tribute to Sir Fred Hoyle (1915-2001). New Jersey: World Scientific.
[ 74 ] Williams, Katelyn M. with Bryan A. Wilson, Wendi G. O’Connor, and Monte S. Willis. (18 July 2013). “Ernest Everett Just, PhD: Pioneer in Ecological Developmental (Eco-Devo) Biology” in the Journal of the South Carolina Academy of Science, volume 11, issue 1, article 5, online at https://scholarcommons.sc.edu/jscas/vol11/iss1/5/. (Accessed 17 September 2021.) [Abstract– “Ernest Everett Just, a pioneering American biologist, discovered the fundamental role of the environment in the development of embryos. His work led to the creation of the area of biology known as ecological developmental (Eco-Devo) biology. However, both his work and the context of his scientific contributions are not widely known. His work covered a diversity of fields of biology, including marine biology, cytology, and parthogenesis (asexual reproduction where growth and development of embryos occur without fertilization). His findings provided important concepts in developmental biology that are used to this day. Specifically, he demonstrated the importance of the cellular cytoplasm and ectoplasm, in addition to the nucleus, in determining how development occurs in embryos. His worked was unique for its use of in vivo conditions using a variety of marine organisms. His publications on the “Basic Methods for Experiments on Eggs of Marine Mammals” in 1922 [1939b] and “The Biology of the Cell Surface” in 1939 are still regarded as two of the most comprehensive reviews in cell biology. In this manuscript we present Dr. Just’s childhood in Charleston, SC, unlikely attendance and success at Dartmouth College, and his groundbreaking work, which was developed at the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL) at Woods Hole, Europe, and Howard University.”]
[ 75 ] Wilson, Edmund B. (1896). The Cell in Development and Inheritance. New York: Macmillan.
[ 76 ] Wilson, Edward O. (1975). Sociobiology: The New Synthesis. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
[ 77 ] Yamanaka, Shinya. (14 June 2012). “Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells: Past, Present, and Future” in Cell Stem Cell, volume 10, issue 6, pp. 678-684, online at https://doi.org/10.1016/j.stem.2012.05.005 (Accessed 12 September 2021.)