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Mar Genomics. 2018 Jul;40:1-8. doi: 10.1016/j.margen.2018.01.003. Epub 2018 Feb 14.

Boveri's research at the Zoological Station Naples: Rediscovery of his original microscope slides at the University of Würzburg.

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Cell and Developmental Biology, Theodor-Boveri-Institute, Biocenter, University of Würzburg, D-97074 Würzburg, Germany. Electronic address:


Eric Davidson once wrote about Theodor Boveri: "From his own researches, and perhaps most important, his generalized interpretations, derive the paradigms that underlie modern inquiries into the genomic basis of embryogenesis" (Davidson, 1985). As luck would have it, the "primary data" of Boveri's experimental work, namely the microscope slides prepared by him and his wife Marcella during several stays at the Zoological Station in Naples (1901/02, 1911/12 and 1914), have survived at the University of Würzburg. More than 600 slides exist and despite their age they are in a surprisingly good condition. The slides are labelled and dated in Boveri's handwriting and thus can be assigned to his published experimental work on sea urchin development. The results allowed Boveri to unravel the role of the cell nucleus and its chromosomes in development and inheritance. Here, I present an overview of the slides in the context of Boveri's work along with photographic images of selected specimens taken from the original slides. It is planned to examine the slides in more detail, take high-resolution focal image series of significant specimens and make them online available.


Aneuploidy; Merogone experiments; Multipolar mitosis; Polyspermy; Science history; Sea urchin development

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