Mutants, And Their Suppliers, Are Key To Modern Research

Through History Mutants forged the field of genetics, starting with Gregor Mendel's short or tall, yellow or green, round or wrinkled pea plants. Since Mendel's work in the 19th century, geneticists have used white-eyed flies to demonstrate sex linkage and bread mold spore variants to study the recombination of traits that occurs during sexual reproduction. Christiane Nusslein-Volhard and Edward Lewis, two of this year's Lasker award winners, are being recognized for pioneering work in developm

Ricki Lewis
Sep 29, 1991

Through History Mutants forged the field of genetics, starting with Gregor Mendel's short or tall, yellow or green, round or wrinkled pea plants. Since Mendel's work in the 19th century, geneticists have used white-eyed flies to demonstrate sex linkage and bread mold spore variants to study the recombination of traits that occurs during sexual reproduction. Christiane Nusslein-Volhard and Edward Lewis, two of this year's Lasker award winners, are being recognized for pioneering work in developmental genetics that involved fruit flies with homeotic mutations--striking abnormalities, such as multiple thoraxes or duplicate sets of wings (see story on page 14). Mutants have chronicled environmental change. Over the last century in England, dark variants of the peppered moth Biston betularia have flourished as their lighter-colored cousins were easily spotted by hungry birds on tree bark darkened by pollution from the industrial revolution. And an "ice-minus" deletion mutant of the bacterium Pseudomonas syringae that...

Interested in reading more?

Become a Member of

Receive full access to digital editions of The Scientist, as well as TS Digest, feature stories, more than 35 years of archives, and much more!
Already a member?