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From Gregor Mendel's 1865-lectures to his 1866-masterpiece

van Dijk, Peter and Ellis, Noel (2022) From Gregor Mendel's 1865-lectures to his 1866-masterpiece. [Preprint]

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Abstract

The two lectures Gregor Mendel gave in the spring of 1865 to the Natural Science Society in Brno can be considered the ultimate origin of genetics. Here we reconstruct these lectures and their settings using digitized historical newspapers, and we compare these to Mendel's 1866-paper "Experiments on plant hybrids". The newspapers explained to their readers that Mendel used the term "Hybriden" in the sense of "Bastarden". Naturalists commonly used the latter term to describe hybrids between species in nature. Mendel's use of "Hybriden" and the avoidance of "Bastarden" in the 1866-paper and early letters to Nägeli regarding Pisum are particular. In English translations, both German words are translated as "hybrids" so that Mendel's differentiated use of words is no longer noticeable. We argue that with the use of "Hybriden" Mendel did not need to take a position on whether the Pisum parental forms were species or varieties, as Mendel considered these as extremes of a continuum. That Mendel probably started his pea crossings as a breeder may also have played a role; "Hybriden" was commonly used in horticulture. Mendel's use of "Hybriden" was unusual for the naturalists in the Natural Science Society, and newspaper reports indicate that this led to confusion. According to the Brünner Zeitung, legumes were not suitable for studies on hybridisation because such interspecific hybrids were rare in nature. However, in his 1866-article, Mendel explained that the garden pea was highly suitable for experimental hybridization due to its flower structure. In the Concluding Remarks of the 1866-article, Mendel showed that his findings were relevant for hybrids between wild species by reviewing the work of Gärtner and Kölreuter. We conclude that it is probable that this section was not part of the lectures and was added later to the paper to accommodate points raised in the discussion after the lectures.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
van Dijk, Peterpeter.van-dijk@keygene.com0000-0001-8592-6782
Ellis, Noelthnoelellis@gmail.com0000-0001-6726-9950
Keywords: Gregor Mendel Pisum crosses genetics hybrids Gärtner
Subjects: General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Depositing User: Dr. Peter J. van Dijk
Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2022 14:51
Last Modified: 11 Nov 2022 14:51
Item ID: 21395
Subjects: General Issues > History of Science Case Studies
Date: 11 November 2022
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/21395

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