teratology


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Wikipedia.

teratology

1. the branch of medical science concerned with the development of physical abnormalities during the fetal or early embryonic stage
2. the branch of biology that is concerned with the structure, development, etc., of monsters
3. a collection of tales about mythical or fantastic creatures, monsters, etc.

Teratology

 

the science of monstrosities. The teratology of animals deals with deviations from normal body structure caused chiefly by disturbances in embryonic development. According to the type of manifestation, monstrosities are either insignificant deviations that exceed the variations observed within the norm, or severe deviations from normal body structure that often make the organism nonviable.

The scientific study of monstrosities in animals and man has been aided by the establishment in many countries of teratological collections, which have made it possible to compare and classify monstrosities. One of the first such collections was established in the late 17th century by the Dutch anatomist F. Ruysch. Peter I the Great became acquainted with this collection during his sojourn in Holland in 1697–98, and in 1717 he purchased it. In 1704 he issued a decree prohibiting the killing of monsters and ordering that they be reported to the Monastyrskii Prikaz. A decree of 1718 stipulated that all living and dead monsters, both human and animal, be brought to the St. Petersburg Kunstkamera. This led to a rapid enlargement of the Kunstkamera’s teratological collection, which was open to visitors.

Beginning in the late 1760’s, the Kunstkamera’s collection was studied by C. F. Wolff. The most important of Wolff s teratological studies was his description of a two-headed calf. The description was supplemented by a memoir, The Origin of Monsters (1773), which affirmed the natural origin of monsters and proved that such double monsters as xiphopaguses, pygopaguses, and thoracopaguses result not from the joining of two embryos but from the partial separation of a single embryo. Teratological collections were later studied by the academicians of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences P. A. Zagorskii and K. M. Ber. K. F. Rul’e also stressed the natural origin of monstrosities.

In the early 19th century, scientists attempted to produce monstrosities artificially in order to study their origin. The first attempt to apply the experimental method to teratology was made by E. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. Similar experiments were continued by the French scientists I. Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire and J. B. Dumas and by the Swiss physician J. L. Prévost. Systematic studies of monstrosities were later made in France by G. Dareste and in Russia by P. I. Mitrofanov.

Attempts to produce monstrosities artificially were particularly widespread during the first half of the 20th century, when experimental embryology underwent rapid development. Mechanical influences on the dividing egg cell of amphibians and fishes, and later of birds and mammals, resulted in the production of various monstrosities. W. Roux and H. Spemann produced twins joined at the head and tail extremities, and Spemann and D. P. Filatov produced cyclopia (the presence of only one eye), a deformity resulting from impaired brain structure. O. Hertwig produced monstrosities experimentally by subjecting the dividing egg cell to high or low temperatures. J. Loeb produced monstrosities by means of radiation and by changing the chemical composition of the environment. Other monstrosities were produced by interfering with the normal respiration of the embryo. During the first half of the 20th century, much was learned about the teratogenic influence of somnifacients, antibiotics, and insecticides.

Some monstrosities are hereditary. In man, dominant monstrosities include congenital dislocation of the hip, harelip, and cleft palate; recessive monstrosities include deaf-mutism, flat-footedness, and total albinism.

Modern teratology studies the causes and origins of hereditary and nonhereditary congenital pathological states and developmental defects. It seeks to prevent congenital developmental defects in animals and man. The detection of teratogens is of importance in the prevention of such defects. Consequently, all new medicines are tested on animal embryos for the possible presence of teratogens. Toxic chemicals used in agriculture are tested as well. Teratology is also of importance in the biology of development, since knowledge of the deviations caused by teratogens or mutant genes is a means of discovering the motivating forces and controlling mechanisms of normal embryonic development in animals and man.

The teratology of plants deals with nonhereditary and hereditary monstrosities, anomalies, and developmental defects, which result in changes in the number, size, arrangement, and external and internal structural of organs. The causes of plant malformations include infections with viruses, mycoplasmas, bacteria, or fungi as well as damage effected by nematodes, ticks, or insects. Other causes of plant malformations are hybridization, ionizing radiation, geophysical factors, chemical growth regulators, fertilizers, pesticides, industrial wastes, minerals, low and high temperatures, excessive or insufficient water and light, and mutation. Plant malformations include gigantism, dwarfism, double flowering, witches’-brooms, prolification of flowers and of inflorescences, fasciation, and impaired embryonic development. Many teratological changes are caused by smut and white rust of corn, dwarf smut of wheat, follicular disease of plum, and tomato big-bud virus.

Knowledge of plant malformations aids in the study of the morphological evolution of plants and in the establishment of laws of comparative plant pathology. Such knowledge is also useful in selective breeding and in determining means of increasing the biological productivity of plants and of protecting plants from pests and disease. Knowledge of plant malformations is of value in the development of efficient methods for utilizing chemical agents in agriculture and forestry; in seeking useful minerals; in biological studies of chemical compounds and physical influences; and in determining the detrimental effects of industrial contaminants.

REFERENCES

Polnoe sobranie zakonov Rossiiskoi imperii [Sobranie I], vol. 4. St. Petersburg, 1830. Pages 243, 308. Vol. 5: St. Petersburg, 1830. Pages 541–42.
Zagorskii, P. “Obozrenie raznoobraznykh urodov.” Umozritel’nye issledovaniia imp. Sanktpeterburgskoi AN. 1812, vol. 3. Pages 265–77.
Mitrofanov, P. I. “Teratogeneticheskie nabliudeniia.” Varshavskie universitetskie izvestiia, 1899, nos. 8–9.
Raikov, B. E. Russkie biologi—evoliutsionisty do Darvina, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1952. Chapter 3.
Wolff, C. F. Predmety razmyshlenii v sviazi s teoriei urodov. Leningrad, 1973. (Translated from Latin.)
Fedorov, A. A. Teratologiia i formoobrazovanie u rastenii. Moscow-Leningrad, 1958.
Fedorov, A. A. “Teratogenez i ego znachenie dlia formo- i vidoobrazovaniia rastenii.” In Problema vida v botanike, vol. 1. Moscow-Leningrad, 1958.
Slepian, E. I. Palologicheskie novoobrazovaniia i ikh vozbuditeli u rastenii. Leningrad, 1973.
Dyban, A. P. “Nekotorye aktual’nye zadachi eksperimental’noi teratologii.” Vestnik AMN SSSR, 1967, no. 1.
Svetlov, P. G. “Znachenie vneshnikh vozdeistvii dlia realizatsii nasledstvennykh zabolevanii i porokov razvitiia v khode ontogeneza.” Ibid., 1974, no. 3.
Worsdell, W. C. The Principles of Plant Teratology, vol. 1. London, 1916.
Penzig, O. Pflanzen-Teratologie, 2nd ed., vols. 1–3. Berlin, 1921–22.
Vuillemin, J.-P. Les Anomalies vegetales, leur cause biologique. Paris, 1926.
Strohl, J. Missbildingen im Tier- and Pflanzenreich. Jena, 1929.
Chouard, P. “Morphogenèse, tératogenése et évolution.” L’Année biologique, 1952, vol. 28, nos. 7–8.
Kalter, H. Teratology of the Central Nervous System. Chicago, 1968.
Saxen, L., and I. Rapóla. Congenital Defects. New York, 1969.
Wilson, I. Environment and Birth Defects. New York, 1973.

L. IA. BLIAKHER, A. P. DYBAN, and E. I. SLEPIAN

teratology

[‚ter·ə′täl·ə·jē]
(medicine)
The science of fetal malformations and monstrosities.
References in periodicals archive ?
Principles of teratology, Obstetrics & Gynecology, 9(3): 163-169.
A telling of wonders: Teratology in Western medicine through 1800.
Rodriguez-Pinilla E, Martinez-Frias ML Corticosteroids during pregnancy and oral clefts: a case-control study Teratology 1998:58:2-5.
1 ml/kg/day systemic effects at any level 13-week Rats 1,000 mg/kg Increased subchronic 350 mg/kg liver and 100 mg/kg kidney weights at 1,000 NOEL=350 mg/kg Dermal Rats 1 ml/kg/day No embryo teratology 0.
The 27 chapters by a group of North American pharmacists, physicians, and nurses specializing in maternal-fetal medicine provide information often lacking in pharmacy training, including discussion of physiologic changes, developmental toxicity, drug use and lactation, use of over-the-counter medications, teratology risk assessment and counseling, drug therapy for complications unique to pregnancy, and treatment of common chronic diseases such as depression, epilepsy, infectious disease, nausea and vomiting, and autoimmune diseases in pregnancy.
The study appears in the latest issue of Neurotoxicology and Teratology.
Several other studies appeared to confirm these findings, Lisa O'Brien reported in a poster session at the annual meeting of the Teratology Society.
The prospective cohort data come from the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), a network of telephone-based teratology counseling services based at hospitals and universities throughout the United States and Canada.
The Introduction is a compendium of useful resources such as locations and phone numbers of Poison Control Centers throughout the country, organizations offering information on toxicology, and teratology information services.
West of the Texas A & M University in College Station and his colleagues now report in the August Teratology.
She is director of 08c: MotherToBaby California, a past president of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists, and past president of the Teratology Society.