History of Genetics

  • 500

    Ancient Greece (500 B.C.)

    According to this model both males and females contribute a fluid to children. In addition, each part of the body contributes a fluid (e.g., eye fluid, finger fluid). At conception, the fluids compete, and gender is determined by this competition.
  • Period: 500 to

    History of Genetics

  • Feb 28, 1200

    Middle Ages

    Spontaneous generation was the idea that living organisms could arise from a nonliving substance. Flies, for example, spontaneously generated from meat, and fleas from mud and dirt.
  • William Harvey

    William Harvey
    William Harvey publishes De Generatione Animalium. Harvey argued by analogy that women have eggs because chickens have eggs, and he was one of the first to argue that human reproduction occurs through epigenesis, the development of an organism from the fusion of sperm and egg.
  • Francesco Redi

    Francesco Redi
    Published the article Experiments on the Generation of Insects.
    Conducted one of the first controlled experiments by placing meat into jars (some covered, some uncovered). He disproved spontaneous generation by showing that flies did not spontaneously generate from the meat in covered jars.
  • Antony van Leeuwenhoek

    Antony van Leeuwenhoek
    Leeuwenhoek made tremendous improvements to microscopes, specifically the lens. He observed both fleas mating and sperm. He deduced that all organisms are sexual and speculated that sperm might have a preformed individual inside that develops in utero.
  • John Needham

    John Needham
    Needham tested his theory that heat killed microorganisms by heating gravy and letting it cool. Upon examining the gravy with a microscope, he discovered that microorganisms sill existed. He believed the microorganisms' existence supported spontaneous generation.
  • Lazzaro Spallanzani

    Lazzaro Spallanzani
    Spallanzani argued that microorganims were in the air, but could not survive one a container was heated and sealed.
  • Louis Pasture

    Louis Pasture
    Pasture combined the works of Needham and Spallanzani by proving that microorganims were indeed airborne. He then demonstated that the intrduction of microorganims to the growth medium could be controlled. This resulted in the breakthrough we call pasteurization. It also finally disproved spontaneous generation.
  • Gegor Mendel

    Gegor Mendel
    Mendel performed detailed experiments on seven traits of the pea plant. He established laws of heredity that serve as the basis for the modern study of genetics.
  • Thomas Hunt Morgan

    Thomas Hunt Morgan
    Morgan was awarded a Nobel prize for his work in Genetics. His experiments with fruit flies lead to his discovery that genes were located on chromosomes which are the molecular basis of heredity.
  • Human Genome Project

    The Human Genome Project started in 1990 and was completed in 2003. The projects main goals were to identify all the genes in human DNA (20,000-25,000) and to determine the nucleotide sequence for all of the genes (3 billion bases).