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Plant Biol (Stuttg). 2011 Nov;13(6):835-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1438-8677.2011.00491.x. Epub 2011 Jul 1.

'Rediscovery' revised - the cooperation of Erich and Armin von Tschermak-Seysenegg in the context of the 'rediscovery' of Mendel's laws in 1899-1901.

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  • 1Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Centre for the History of Sciences and Humanities, Prague, Czech Republic.


The 'rediscovery' of Mendel's laws in 1900 is seen as a turning point in modern research on heredity and genetics. In the first half of the 20th century it was generally held that the 'rediscovery' was made several times, independently, and in a parallel fashion by three European botanists (Carl Correns, Hugo de Vries and Erich von Tschermak-Seysenegg). Since the 1950s, however, serious questions have arisen concerning both the chronology and the specific conceptual contribution of the scientists involved. Not only the independence but also parallelism was analysed in the context of individual research programmes of all three of these scholars. The youngest of them, Austrian botanist Erich von Tschermak-Seysenegg, was excluded from the rank of 'rediscoverers'. It is the aim of this paper to use new archival evidence and add important facts both to the chronology and conceptual framework of Erich von Tschermak-Seysenegg's work. An entirely new aspect is added by identifying his older brother, the physiologist Armin von Tschermak-Seysenegg (1870-1952), as a significant spiritus movens of the events of 1900 and 1901. A selected part of their correspondence, covering the period from 13 March 1898 until 19 November 1901, is made available in transcriptions.

© 2011 German Botanical Society and The Royal Botanical Society of the Netherlands.

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