The egg behaves as a prospective cell sustaining the developmental processes of the future embryo. In biosemiotic terms, this apparent teleonomic behaviour can be accounted for without referring to the exclusive causal role played by its genetic makeup. We envision two different processes that are uniquely found in the oocyte: (1) the first involves the mechanisms by which large amounts of mRNA accumulate in the ooplasm to establish the embryo axes prior to fertilization; (2) the second involves transfer of an excess of maternally supplied ribosomes to the oocyte to provide the future embryo with newly synthesized proteins. In this paper, we argue that the information required to sustain embryonic development is not due to any physical properties of the zygotic DNA and the maternal mRNAs, but to their spatially and temporally ordered relationship in the zygote’s internal space.
- Embryo development