GREGOR MENDEL – 1866 – discovered basic principles of genetics: first person to shed light on the way in which characteristics are passed down the generations However, his discoveries weren’t recognised by the scientific community right away. Between 1856 and 1863 Mendel conducted experiments on pea plants, attempting to crossbreed “true” lines in specific combinations. He identified seven characteristics: plant height, pod shape and colour, seed shape and colour, and flower position and colour. Mendel created the terms ‘recessive’ and ‘dominant’ in relation to traits, to explain this phenomenon.
1900 – MENDEL’S THEORIES ARE REDISCOVERED BY RESEARCHES: 16 years after his death, Gregor Mendel’s pea plant research finally made its way into the wider scientific community. Hugo de Vries, Carl Erich Correns Erich Tschermak von Seysenegg all independently rediscovered Mendel’s work and reported results of hybridization experiments similar to his findings.
SIR ARCHIBALD EDWARD GARROD – 1902 – the first to associate Mendel’s theories with a human disease: Whilst studying the human disorder alkaptonuria, he collected family history information from his patients. he concluded that alkaptonuria was a recessive disorder and, in 1902, he published The Incidence of Alkaptonuria: A Study in Chemical Individuality. This was the first published account of recessive inheritance in humans.
ROSALIND FRANKLIN – 1952 – photographs crystallised DNA fibres: was able to produce two sets of high-resolution photographs of DNA fibres. Using the crystalline x-ray photographs, she calculated the dimensions of the strands and deduced that the phosphates were on the outside of what was probably a helical structure.
JAMES WATSON AND FRANCAIS CRICK – 1953 – discovered the double helix structure of DNA: Crick and Watson, together with Maurice Wilkins, won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Medicine for their discovery of the structure of DNA. This was one of the most significant scientific discoveries of the 20th century.
MARSHALL NIRENBURG – 1965 – first person to sequence bases in each codon: He decided to focus his research on nucleic acids and protein synthesis in the hope of cracking ‘life’s code’. Nirenberg tried to show that RNA could trigger protein synthesis. Nirenberg and Matthaei ground up E.coli bacteria cells, in order to rupture their walls and release the cytoplasm, which they then used in their experiments. These experiments used 20 test tubes, each filled with a different amino acid – the scientists wanted to know which amino acid would be incorporated into a protein after the addition of a synthetic RNA.
DOLLY THE SHEEP – 1996 – is cloned: Dolly the sheep was the first mammal to be cloned from an adult cell. Dolly demonstrated that even when DNA had specialised, it could still be used to create an entire organism. from the udder cell of a six-year-old Finn Dorset white sheep. By altering the growth medium, the scientists found a way to ‘reprogram’ the cell, which was then injected into an unfertilised egg that had had its nucleus removed. The egg was then cultured to reach the embryo stage, before being implanted into a surrogate mother.


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