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2 thoughts on “Obituary: Hans Meinhardt (1938-2016)”


    I was moved by the precise and kind report on Hans Meinhardt life and achievements by Müller and Nüsslein-Volhard. Hans came on several times to our Department of Genetics in Barcelona where we were struggling, and we still are, to make sense on the bewildering regeneration feats of planarians. Here and there, he was always ready and eager to explain the many research subjects he was interested in and try to convince anyone that his model gave a sound explanation. Three brief comments on Hans.

    1) Müller and Nüsslein-Volhard are completely right to point out the differences between the Turing and the Meinhardt-Gierer models. Nowadays people use to qualify as ‘Turing’ many sort of patterns which most often are best explained and should be adscribed to a Meinhardt-Gierer model.
    2) Hans was prescient to give compartment boundaries a role as pattern organizers through the activation and diffusion of morphogens (Meinhardt, 1982). In that he was 12 years ahead of its actual finding in AP and DV compartment boundaries in wing and leg imaginal discs of Drosophila (1994). Of note, and rather sadly, his views were dispised by the at that time Lords of the Flies in my country.
    3) I’m not sure, however, and despite his nice and well produced book (Meinhardt, 1995), whether the beautiful patterning of sea shells are fully explained by Meinhard-Gierer models. As it seems to be the case in so many other pattern systems (e.g. zebrafish stripes, zebra bands, digit patterning, mouse palatal rugae, tooth cusps, phylotaxis,…) the real thing is much more complex and goes far beyond the molecules and its interactions contemplated in both Turing and Meinhardt-Gierer models in which, too often, cells seem to be absent.

    So long Hans.

    1. Thanks for commenting Jaume. One of the nice things about reposting published obituaries on the Node is the opportunity for others to add their recollections. Indeed, I agree that many of Hans’ contributions were ‘ahead of his time’ and perhaps he didn’t gain the broader recognition he deserved…

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