Morgan Develops the Gene-Chromosome Theory (Great Events from History II: Science and Technology Series)
Article abstract: Morgan’s experiments on Drosophila led to the discovery of the principles of the gene-chromosome theory of hereditary transmission.
Summary of Event
In 1904, Thomas Hunt Morgan, a young professor of biology, was invited by E. B. Wilson to join him at Columbia University as professor of experimental zoology. The new position would allow him more time for laboratory research. That same year, through a friend, Jacques Loeb, Morgan met Hugo de Vries, the Dutch biologist who had been one of the trio of scientists who in 1900 had rediscovered the work of Gregor Johann Mendel. (Mendel’s work had been unknown since he first propounded it in 1866, and it was promptly ignored and forgotten.) De Vries had a theory that new species originated through mutation. The rediscovery of Mendel and the contact with de Vries influenced Morgan to initiate experiments to try to discover mutations and to test the Mendelian laws. He began to experiment with Drosophila melanogaster, the fruit fly, an enormously propitious choice for a laboratory animal. It bred rapidly, ate little, and Morgan and his students found that thousands of these minuscule experimental animals could be contained in a small collection of milk bottles that they “borrowed” from the Columbia cafeteria.
In 1908, Morgan had one of his graduate students, Fernandus Payne, perform an experiment in which he bred generations of...
(The entire section is 1777 words.)
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