The patterned distribution of different organs in the amphibian embryo begins with the establishment of two domains, the animal and vegetal regions, that differ in developmental potency. Differences amplify as inductive interactions occur across boundaries between areas of different potency. Embryonic induction establishes a temporally and spatially dynamic area of developmental potency - a morphogenetic field. The final arrangement and differentiation of cell types within the field emerge from subsequent interactions occurring primarily within the field. These principles are illustrated in a review of the induction of the lens and the heart. Recent studies show that the induction of the lens of the eye and the induction of the heart begin early in development. Most of lens inductions occurs before the formation of the optic vesicle, and the heart appears to be part of a complex of dorsal structures whose formation is dependent upon the establishment of the dorsoventral axis. Suppressive as well as inductive tissue interactions occur during the determination of both of these organs, affecting their position and time of appearance. The complex processes of induction defined by the past nine decades of experimental work present many challenging questions that can now be addressed, especially in terms of the molecular events, cellular behaviour and regulatory physiology of the responding tissue.

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