Cover image for Mendel's legacy : the origin of classical genetics
Mendel's legacy : the origin of classical genetics
Carlson, Elof Axel.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Cold Spring Harbor, N.Y. : Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xix, 332 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 24 cm
What is classical genetics? -- Routes to classical genetics: evolution -- Routes to classical genetics: cytology -- Routes to classical genetics: embryology and reproduction -- Routes to classical genetics: breeding and hybrid formation -- The rise of the American university -- The sex chromosomes -- The rediscovery of Mendelism -- The chromosome theory of heredity -- The predominance of plant breeding to 1910 -- Maize genetics and the popularization of genetics -- Animal genetics in the first decade of the twentieth century -- Morgan and fruit fly genetics -- Forming the fly lab: contributions of A.H. Sturtevant and C.B. Bridges -- Forming the fly lab: contributions of H.J. Muller -- Drosophila genetics after 1915 -- Darwinism, mendelism, and the new synthesis -- Classical genetics to the mid-twentieth century -- Classical genetics and one-celled organisms -- Classical genetics in the service of politics -- Classical genetics and human genetics -- The future and significance of classical genetics -- Classical genetics and the history of science.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
QH428 .C248 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



This latest book by Elof Carlson (The Unfit) is a first history of classical genetics, the era in which the chromosome theory of heredity was proposed and developed. Highly illustrated and based heavily on early 20th century original sources, the book traces the roots of genetics in breeding analysis and studies of cytology, evolution, and reproductive biology that began in Europe but were synthesized in the United States through new Ph.D. programs and expanded academic funding. Carlson argues that, influenced largely by new technologies and instrumentation, the life sciences progressed though incremental change rather than paradigm shifts, and he describes how molecular biology emerged from the key ideas and model systems of classical genetics. Readable and original, this narrative will interest historians and science educators as well as today's practitioners of genetics.

Author Notes

Elof Axel Carlson, is Distinguished Teaching Professor Emeritus, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, New York.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Carlson (emer., Stony Brook Univ.), a former student of the well-known geneticist Herman J. Muller, has written a fascinating history of the emergence of "classical genetics." After reviewing landmark discoveries in 19th-century evolutionary biology, he focuses on why genetics flourished in the United States rather than in Europe, where initial discoveries occurred. The establishment of Johns Hopkins University, epitome of the American research university (with its PhD programs), was responsible for creating a climate for fresh ideas. H. Newell Martin, a disciple of Thomas Henry Huxley and Michael Foster (of Cambridge Univ.), was recruited to head the zoology department at Johns Hopkins; his emphasis on laboratory work shaped the careers of Edmund Beecher Wilson and Thomas Hunt Morgan. Wilson went to Columbia University to head the zoology department (1891), and his work on chromosomes led to the chromosomal theory of heredity. Morgan later went to Columbia and assembled talented young research biologists who conducted numerous experiments with Drosophila, resulting in important discoveries in population genetics and evolution. Accompanied by many excellent photographs, the account of this critical period in biology (1900-1916)--and its aftermath--will interest a wide audience, including science students and historians. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. General readers; lower-level undergraduates and above. J. S. Schwartz CUNY College of Staten Island

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
Chronology of Classical Geneticsp. xiii
1 What Is Classical Genetics?p. 1
Part I The Tributaries of Genetics
2 Routes to Classical Genetics: Evolutionp. 7
3 Routes to Classical Genetics: Cytologyp. 17
4 Routes to Classical Genetics: Embryology and Reproductionp. 31
5 Routes to Classical Genetics: Breeding and Hybrid Formationp. 41
Part II An American Amalgam: The Chromosome Theory of Heredity
6 The Rise of the American Universityp. 53
7 The Sex Chromosomesp. 79
8 The Rediscovery of Mendelismp. 99
9 The Chromosome Theory of Heredityp. 109
Part III Mendelism Takes Over: 1900-1910
10 The Predominance of Plant Breeding to 1910p. 119
11 Maize Genetics and the Popularization of Geneticsp. 139
12 Animal Genetics in the First Decade of the Twentieth Centuryp. 153
Part IV The Organism of Choice: Drosophila
13 Morgan and Fruit Fly Geneticsp. 163
14 Forming the Fly Lab: Contributions of A.H. Sturtevant and C.B. Bridgesp. 181
15 Forming the Fly Lab: Contributions of H.J. Mullerp. 203
16 Drosophila Genetics after 1915p. 215
Part V Classical Genetics Permeates Biology
17 Darwinism, Mendelism, and the New Synthesisp. 231
18 Classical Genetics to the Mid-Twentieth Centuryp. 243
19 Classical Genetics and One-Celled Organismsp. 261
Part VI Classical Genetics Examines Homo Sapiens
20 Classical Genetics in the Service of Politicsp. 275
21 Classical Genetics and Human Geneticsp. 291
22 The Future and Significance of Classical Geneticsp. 301
23 Classical Genetics and the History of Sciencep. 307
Indexp. 319