GENE

S. A. Modena samodena at csemail.cropsci.ncsu.edu
Sun Apr 18 19:15:36 EST 1993


In article <932518102544 at ibm3090.bham.ac.uk> WOCHNIAP at IBM3090.BHAM.AC.UK writes:
>==============================================================================
>
>
>Does anybody know the origin of the word "gene"? Where I can find the reference
>s? Let me know, please!!!        Peter.

I guess I understood the question differently than the etiologists.....

Consulting an authority:  A History of Genetics
			  A.H. Sturtevant
			  Harper & Row, New York 1965

on page 31: " New terminology was needed. Many of the now familiar terms
were introduced by Bateson--such as _genetics_, for the subject itself,...
.... Mendel usually used the word _Merkmal_ for what we now term _gene_,
and this was translated as _character_, often appearing as _unit
character_; Bateson used the word _factor_. It was somewhat later (1909)
that Johannsen introducted the word _gene_."

Sturtevant is referring to:  "Elemente der exakten Erblichkeitslehre"
			     W. Johannsen
			     Fischer, Jena, 1909  516 pp.

And now looking at:  "A Short History of Genetics"
		     L.C. Dunn
		     McGraw-Hill NewYord 1965

And in referring to the same book by Johannsen, we have on p 92 of Dunn:

"...He then sought a word to replace _Anlage_, which in German, as in the
Danish "Anlaegg", has many meanings.  He finally settled on the last
syllable of the word "pangene" which de Vries took from Darwins's
pangenesis.  He then combined "gene" with "type" to make "genotype"....

And how did Johannsen recommend this new word?  "The gene is to be used as
a kind of accounting or calculating unit [_Rechnungseinheit_]...."

Which I suppose, along with the visualization of the chromosome, lead to
the metaphore of "beads on a string", most likely in the sense of the
billiard or pool hall counters on the overhead wire.  :^)

I wonder if anyone remembers how to use the library anymore.  ;^)  Eh,
Pete?

Steve
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