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Flemming, Walther

cell chromatin division named

(1843–1905) German cytologist: pioneer of cytology and discoverer of mitosis.

Flemming studied medicine in five German universities and later became professor of anatomy at Kiel. Using the new aniline dyes as microscopic stains, and the improved microscopes of the 1860s, he found that scattered fragments in an animal cell nucleus became strongly coloured; he named this substance chromatin. In cell division, the chromatin granules coalesce to form larger threads (named chromosomes in 1888 by ). He went on to show that simple nuclear division as described by is not the rule, and the more common type of cell division he named ‘mitosis’. In this, the chromosomes split lengthwise and the identical halves move to opposite sides of the cell, entangled in the fine threads of the starlike aster (in animal cells only). The cell then divides, giving two daughter cells with as much chromatin as the original. Flemming gave a fine account of the process in 1882 and it has been intensively studied ever since. He did not know of work and so he could not relate his work to genetic studies; that realization did not come for 20 years.

Flesh and Blood [next] [back] Fleming, Sir John Ambrose

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