Other Free Encyclopedias » Online Encyclopedia » Encyclopedia - Featured Articles » Contributed Topics from K-O

Morgan, Thomas Hunt

genes chromosomes heredity chromosome

(1866–1945) US geneticist: established chromosome theory of heredity.

Morgan was a product of two prominent American family lines (including his great-grandfather F S Key, who composed the national anthem) and he grew up in rural Kentucky with an interest in natural history. He studied zoology there at the State College and then at Johns Hopkins University. His later career was at Columbia, and then at the California Institute of Technology from 1928.

A quick, humorous and generous man, he is linked especially with the use in genetics of the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster , and with establishing the chromosome theory of heredity, and the idea that genes are located in a linear array on chromosomes. When he began his work on genetics he was doubtful of the truth of views, but his studies with Drosophila soon convinced him and he became a vigorous supporter. W Sutton (1877– 1916), in 1902, had suggested that Mendel’s ‘factors’ might be the chromosomes; Morgan proved him right, and showed that the units of heredity (the genes) are carried on the chromosomes. With his co-workers he established sex-linkage, initially through the observation that the mutant variety ‘white-eye’ occurs almost exclusively in fruit flies that are male; he also discovered crossover (the exchange of genes between chromosomes) and he and his team devised the first chromosome map, in 1911 (it showed the relative position of five sex-linked genes; by 1922 they had a map showing the relative positions of over 2000 genes on the four chromosomes of Drosophila ). He won a Nobel Prize in 1933.

Mori, Hanae [next] [back] Morgan, J.P. - Overview, Personal Life, Career Details, Chronology: J.P. Morgan, Social and Economic Impact

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or