This past-presidential address considers the relationship between small-scale assembly and large-scale patterning in ciliates. Certain model examples of assembly-based patterning are reviewed, followed by the introduction of Williams and Honts' concept of "meta-assembly" as applied to the development of the oral apparatus. The major part of this review then explores two topics: the nature and origin of large-scale circumferential order, and the manner by which the large-scale order of cell directions influences the organization of membranelles of the oral apparatus. In this review, I summarize an existing formal description of large-scale positional order, allude to a more precise abstract theoretical model, and end with a brief discussion of the problem of searching for molecular mechanisms.
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