Genetics: Timeline of key events

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Schleiden was a botanist. Based on his study of plant structures under the microscope he helped develop the theory that cells are the basic structure in all organisms and the basic unit of reproduction. He also connected the cell nucleus with cell division and suggested that all embryonic plant cells arose from one cell. 1804-04-05T00:00:00+0000Galton is best known for having ignited the debate about 'Nature versus Nature' in 1869 and coined the term 'Eugenics' in 1883. Inspired by his cousin Charles Darwin's work, he developed a programme of research to understand human variation, looking at their differences in mental capabilities and height to facial characteristics and fingerprint patterns. He pioneered the use of statistical methods to determine human differences and how intelligence and physical trains are passed down through families. 1822-02-16T00:00:00+0000Mendel helped establish the laws of inheritance by studying traits between differerent pea plant generations. His work laid the basis for the study of classical genetics.1822-07-20T00:00:00+0000A French biologist, Lamarck developed a theory of evolution proposing that physical traits were inherited through generations by two forces. The first force was alchemical and second was the environment of an organism. 1829-12-18T00:00:00+0000von Nageli identified string-like bodies in cell nucleus. He did not know they played role in heredity. 1842-01-01T00:00:00+0000Flemming was a biologist who is credited as the founder of cytogenetics. He was the first to describe the behaviour of chromosomes during cell division, a process he called mitosis. This he discovered through investigations of the fins and gills of salamanders. He first published his findings in 1878. In addition to his pioneering scientific work, Flemming is famous for his social activism. Notably he fed the homeless on a weekly basis and donated 20% of his salary to homeless shelters. He also taught mathematics and science to children too poor to attend school. 1843-04-21T00:00:00+0000van Beneden was a cytologist and embryologist. He worked out how chromosomes divide during cell meiosis. Based on studies of an intestinal worm found in horses, he also showed that fertilisation involves the union of two half-nuclei, one form the male sperm cell and one from the female egg, each containing half the the number of chromosomes found in all cells. He later demonstrated that the chromosome number is constant for every body cell in each species. 1846-03-05T00:00:00+0000Hertwig was a biologist who determined that fertilisation starts when the nuclei of sperm and ovum cells fuse. This he proved in 1876 through experiments with sea urchins. Eight years later he demonstrated, through investigations of frog eggs, that the cell divides along its long axis. He was also prescient in predicting, in 1885, that the nucleic acid is the substance responsible for fertilisation and the transmission of hereditary traits. This phenomenon was proven in 1944. 1849-04-21T00:00:00+0000Kossel is best known for having isolated and described the five organic compounds present in nucleic acid which are key to the formation of DNA and RNA. 1853-09-16T00:00:00+0000Stevens was an American biologist who was one of the first scientists to describe the importance of the Y chromosome for determining the sex of some species, and to recognise that females have two X chromosomes. This she determined after noting male beetles produced two kinds of sperm: each with different sized chromosomes. In 1905 she was awarded $1000 for the best scientific paper written by a women. Five years later she was listed as one of America's leading 1000 scientists by The New York Times.1861-07-07T00:00:00+0000Herrick was a physician and cardiologist who reported the first case of sickle-shaped red blood cells in 1910. These he found in the blood of a medical student from Grenada suffering from anaemia. Clinicians subsequently found that the condition, called sickle-cell anaemia, was inherited and was most common in black patients. Sickle-cell anemia was the first disease found to have a genetic cause. Herrick later also observed the first clinical features of coronary thrombosis. 1861-08-11T00:00:00+0000Oscar Hertwig, Albrecht von Kolliker, Eduard Strasburger, and August Weismann independently show the cell's nucleus contains the basis for inheritance.1864-01-01T00:00:00+0000Conducting experiments breeding peas, Gregor Mendel, Austrian scientist, demonstrates that the inheritance of certain traits in pea plants follows particular patterns. This lays the foundation for what was to become known as the laws of Mendelian inheritance. Athough Mendel's theory was not recognised until the early 20th century, Mendel's work established the general principles for modern genetics. 1865-01-01T00:00:00+0000Ernst Haeckel, German biologist and philosopher, proposes the cell nucleus contains factors responsible for the transmission of hereditary traits.1866-01-01T00:00:00+0000McClung was a zoologist. He is best known for identifying the role of chromosomes in determining the sex of a species. This he did through a series of experiments with insects between 1901 and 1902. Based on his findings he hypothesised that the accessory chromosome (now known as chromosome X) could be the nuclear element that determined sex. It was the first time a scientist suggested that a given chromosome carried a set of hereditary traits. 1870-04-05T00:00:00+0000Galton publishes the term in his book 'Inquiries into Human Faculty and Its Development'. 1883-01-01T00:00:00+0000Mendel helped establish the laws of inheritance by studying traits between differerent pea plant generations. His work laid the basis for the study of classical genetics.1884-01-06T00:00:00+0000Richard Altmann, German pathologist, renames nuclein as nucleic acid.1889-01-01T00:00:00+0000Muller was a geneticist. He is best known for his experiments that demonstrated that X-rays could change the genetic make-up fruit-flies and the mutations be passed on to subsequent generations. Published in 1927 this work attracted widespread attention it marked the first time the genetics of a species was intentionally altered. Muller's work opened up new understanding of how mutations are caused and heralded a revolution in genetics research. He was awarded he 1946 Nobel Prize for 'the discovery of the production of mutations by means of X-ray irradiation'.1890-12-21T00:00:00+0000William G Ruppel discovered the nucleotide while trying to isolate the bacterial toxin responsible for tuberculosis. 1898-01-01T00:00:00+0000
Date Event People Places Sciences
5 Apr 1804Matthias J Schleiden was bornSchleiden University of JenaCell, Genetics
16 Feb 1822Francis Galton was born in Birmingham, United KingdomGaltonUniversity College LondonGenetics
20 Jul 1822Gregor Johann Mendel was born in Hyncice, Czech RepublicMendelHyncice, Czech RepublicGenetics
18 Dec 1829Jean-Baptiste Lamarck diedLamarckFrench Academy of SciencesGenetics
1842First observation of chromosomes by Swiss botanist Karl von NageliNageliGenetics, DNA
21 Apr 1843Walther Flemming was born in Schwerin, GermanyFlemmingUniversity of KielCell, Genetics
5 Mar 1846Edouard van Beneden was born in Leuven, Belgianvan Beneden University of LiegeCell, Genetics, DNA
21 Apr 1849Oskar Hertwig was born in Friedberg, GermanyHertwigFriedberg, GermanyReproduction, Genetics
16 Sep 1853Albrecht Kossel was born in Rostock, Mecklenburg (now Germany)KosselUniversity of HeidelbergGenetics
7 Jul 1861Nettie Maria Stevens was born in Cavendish, Vermon, USAStevensCarnegie Institute, Bryn Mawr CollegeGenetics
11 Aug 1861James Bryan Herrick was born in Oak Park, Illinois, USAHerrick Rush Medical CollegeGenetics
1864 - 1865Nucleus shown to contain genetic substanceHertwig, von Kolliker, Strasburger, Weismann University of Munich, University of Wurzburg, University of FreiburgGenetics, DNA
1865Laws of inheritance establishedMendelAbbey of St Thomas, Brno, Austro-Hungarian EmpireGenetics
1866Theory that cell's nucleus contains genetic substanceHaeckelUniversity of JenaCell, Genetics
5 Apr 1870Clarence E McClung was born in Clayton, California, USAMcClungUniversity of PennsylvaniaGenetics
1883The term 'Eugenics' is coined by Francis Galton to denote the science of improving stock by judicious matingGalton Genetics
6 Jan 1884Gregor Johann Mendel diedMendel Genetics
1889Richard Altmann, German pathologist, renames nuclein as nucleic acidAltmannLeipzig UniversityGenetics, DNA
21 Dec 1890Hermann J Muller was born in New York, USAMullerIndiana UniversityGenetics
1898A nucelotide called tuberculinic acid found to bind to the protein tuberculin. It is now regarded as the precursor to the discovery of DNA methylationRuppelPhilipps University of MarburgDNA methylation, Epigenetics

5 Apr 1804

Matthias J Schleiden was born

16 Feb 1822

Francis Galton was born in Birmingham, United Kingdom

20 Jul 1822

Gregor Johann Mendel was born in Hyncice, Czech Republic

18 Dec 1829

Jean-Baptiste Lamarck died

1842

First observation of chromosomes by Swiss botanist Karl von Nageli

21 Apr 1843

Walther Flemming was born in Schwerin, Germany

5 Mar 1846

Edouard van Beneden was born in Leuven, Belgian

21 Apr 1849

Oskar Hertwig was born in Friedberg, Germany

16 Sep 1853

Albrecht Kossel was born in Rostock, Mecklenburg (now Germany)

7 Jul 1861

Nettie Maria Stevens was born in Cavendish, Vermon, USA

11 Aug 1861

James Bryan Herrick was born in Oak Park, Illinois, USA

1864 - 1865

Nucleus shown to contain genetic substance

1865

Laws of inheritance established

1866

Theory that cell's nucleus contains genetic substance

5 Apr 1870

Clarence E McClung was born in Clayton, California, USA

1883

The term 'Eugenics' is coined by Francis Galton to denote the science of improving stock by judicious mating

6 Jan 1884

Gregor Johann Mendel died

1889

Richard Altmann, German pathologist, renames nuclein as nucleic acid

21 Dec 1890

Hermann J Muller was born in New York, USA

1898

A nucelotide called tuberculinic acid found to bind to the protein tuberculin. It is now regarded as the precursor to the discovery of DNA methylation