Journal of the History of Biology

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 165–197 | Cite as

Method as a Function of “Disciplinary Landscape”: C.D. Darlington and Cytology, Genetics and Evolution, 1932–1950

  • Oren Solomon Harman


This article considers the reception of British cytogeneticist C.D. Darlington’s controversial 1932 book, Recent Advances in Cytology. Darlington’s cytogenetic work, and the manner in which he made it relevant to evolutionary biology, marked an abrupt shift in the status and role of cytology in the life sciences. By focusing on Darlington’s scientific method – a stark departure from anti-theoretical, empirical reasoning to a theoretical and speculative approach based on deduction from genetic first principles – the article characterises the relationships defining the “disciplinary landscape” of the life sciences of the time, namely those between cytology, genetics, and evolutionary theory.


chromosomes Cyril Darlington “disciplinary landscape” empiricism J.B.S. Haldane John Innes Horticultural Institute method speculation 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Allen, Garland 1969“Hugo de Vries and the Reception of the “Mutation Theory”Journal of the History of Biology25587CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Allen, Garland 1975Life Sciences in the Twentieth CenturyWileyNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  3. Allen, Garland 1979Thomas Hunt Morgan: the Man and His SciencePrinceton University PressPrincetonGoogle Scholar
  4. Bacon, Francis. 1968. “Novum Organum,” In J. Spedding, R. L. Ellis, D. D. Heath, (eds.), The Works of Francis Bacon., Vol. NewYork: VIII. Garrett Press.Google Scholar
  5. Bateson, William 1922“Evolutionary Faith and Modern Doubts”Science555561Google Scholar
  6. Bateson, William 1926“Segregation”Journal of Genetics16201235Google Scholar
  7. Belling, John 1928“A Working Hypothesis for Segmental Interchange Between Homologous Chromosomes in Flowering Plants”University of California Publications in Botany14283291Google Scholar
  8. Belling, John 1933“Critical Notes on Darlington’s Recent Advances in Cytology” (a posthumous paper)University of California Publications in Botany1775110Google Scholar
  9. Belling, J., Blakeslee, A.F. 1924“The Configurations and Sizes of the Chromosomes in the Trivalents of 25-Chromosomes Daturas”Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences47403415Google Scholar
  10. Brown, S., Zohari, D. 1955“The Relationship of Chiasmata and Crossing-over in Lilium formosanumGenetics40850873Google Scholar
  11. Carlson, Elof Axel 1981Genes, Radiation, and Society: The Life and Work of H.J. MullerCornell University PressIthacaGoogle Scholar
  12. Carson, Hampton L. 1998. “Cytogenetics and the Neo-Darwinian Synthesis,” in Mayr and Provine, op. cit.Google Scholar
  13. Churchill, F.B. 1974“William Johannsen and the Genotype Concept”Journal of the History of Biology7530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Churchill, Fred 1985“Weismann’s Continuity of the Germ-Plasm in Historical Perspective”Freiburger Universitätsblätter24107124Google Scholar
  15. Churchill, Fred 1987“From Heredity Theory to Vererbung, the Transmission problem, 1850–1915”Isis78337364Google Scholar
  16. Cleland, Ralph E. 1972Oenothera: Cytogenetics and EvolutionAcademic PressLondonGoogle Scholar
  17. Coleman, William 1965“Cell Nucleus and Inheritance: An Historical Study”Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society109124158Google Scholar
  18. Coleman, William 1970“Bateson and the Chromosomes: Conservative Thought in Science”Centaurus15228314Google Scholar
  19. Creighton, Harriet, McClintock, Barbara 1931“A Correlation of Cytological and Genetical Crossing Over in Zea Mays”Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences17492497Google Scholar
  20. Darlington, C. D. 1926. “Chromosome Studies in the Scilleae,” pp. 237–251.Google Scholar
  21. Darlington, C.D. 1929“Ring Formation in Oenothera and other Genera”Journal of Genetics20245363Google Scholar
  22. Darlington, C. D. 1930. “Chiasma Formation and Chromosome Pairing in Fritillaria,” In Proceedings of the 5th International Botanical Congress, Cambridge, pp. 189–191.Google Scholar
  23. Darlington, C.D. 1931a“Meiosis in Diploid and Tetraploid Primula sinensisJournal of Genetics246596Google Scholar
  24. Darlington, C.D. 1931b“Meiosis”Biological Reviews6221252Google Scholar
  25. Darlington, C.D. 1932Recent Advances in CytologyChurchillLondonGoogle Scholar
  26. Darlington, C.D. 1939The Evolution of Genetic SystemsCambridge University PressLondonGoogle Scholar
  27. Darlington, C. D. 1952. “Recent Advances in Cytology: a retrospective, 1952–1932,” a recorded seminar at the John Innes, 7.11.1952, DP:C.85:f.21.Google Scholar
  28. Darlington, C.D. 1956“Natural Populations and the Breakdown of Classical Genetics”Proceedings of the Royal Society Series B14535064Google Scholar
  29. Darlington, C.D. 1960“The Chromosomes and the Theory of Heredity”Nature187892895Google Scholar
  30. Darlington, C.D. 1962“Otto Renner: 1885–1960”Bib. Mem. Roy. Soc. Lon7207220Google Scholar
  31. Dobzhansky, Theodosius 1937Genetics and the Origin of SpeciesColumbia University PressNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  32. Dunn, L. C. and Dobzhansky, Theodosius. 1987. “Reminiscences,” Columbia University Oral History Project, typescripts, pp. 865–867, 345.Google Scholar
  33. Falk, R., Schwartz, S. 1993“Morgan’s Hypothesis of the Genetic Control of Development”Genetics134671674Google Scholar
  34. Farmer, J.B., Digby, L. 1912“On the Dimensions of Chromosomes Considered in Relation to Phylogeny”Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London205125Google Scholar
  35. Gates, R.R. 1922“Some Points on the Relation of Cytology and Genetics”Journal of Heredity137576Google Scholar
  36. Glass, Bently 1963“The Establishment of Modern Genetical Theory as an Example of the Interaction of Different Models, Techniques, and Inferences”Crombie, A.C. eds. Scientific Change: Historical Studies in the Intellectual, Social, and Technical Conditions for Scientific Discovery and Technical Invention, from Antiquity to the PresentHeinemannLondon521541Google Scholar
  37. Gould, S.J. 1980Hen’s Teeth and Horse’s ToesNortonNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  38. Hagen, Joel B. 1984“Experimentalists and Naturalists in Twentieth-Century Botany: Experimental Taxonomy 1920–1950”Journal of the History of Biology17249270CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Håkansson, A. 1928“Die Reduktionsteilung in de Samenanlagen einiger Oenotheren”Hereditas11225304Google Scholar
  40. Håkansson, A. 1930“Zur Zytologie trisomatischer Mutanten aus Oenothera lamarckianaHereditas14132Google Scholar
  41. Haldane, J.B.S. 1932The Causes of EvolutionHarper and BrothersLondonGoogle Scholar
  42. Harman, Oren Solomon 2003“C.D. Darlington and the British and American Reaction to Lysenko and the Soviet Conception of Science”Journal of the History of Biology36309352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Harman, Oren Solomon 2004The Man Who Invented the Chromosome: A Life of C.D. DarlingtonHarvard University PressCambridgeGoogle Scholar
  44. Harwood, Jonathan 1993Styles of Scientific Thought: The German Genetics Community 1900–1933Chicago University PressChicagoGoogle Scholar
  45. Hogben, Lancelot. 1921. “Studies on Synapsis, I, II, III,” Proceedings of the Royal Society of London on Series B 91: 268–293, 305–329 and 92: 60–80.Google Scholar
  46. Hogben, AdrianAnne,  eds. 1998Lancelot Hogben, Scientific HumanistMerlin PressWoodbridge, SuffolkGoogle Scholar
  47. Horder, T.J. 2001“The Organizer Concept and Modern Embryology: Anglo-American Prespectives”International Journal of Developmental Biology4597132Google Scholar
  48. Hughes, Arthur 1959A History of CytologyAbelard-SchumanLondonGoogle Scholar
  49. Huskins, C.L. 1945“Contrasts in Cytology”Journal of Heredity364346Google Scholar
  50. Huxley, Julian 1942Evolution: the Modern SynthesisAllen and UnwinLondonGoogle Scholar
  51. Janssens, F.A. 1909“La Théorie de la Chiasmatypie”Cellule25387411Google Scholar
  52. Kamrat Lang, Debra. 1993. “Genetics Humanized: H.J. Muller Between Science and Politics 1915–1932,” unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.Google Scholar
  53. Keller, Evelyn Fox 1998A Feeling For the Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintockW.H. FreemanNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  54. Mayr, Ernst, Provine, William 1998The Evolutionary Synthesis: Perspectives on the Unification of BiologyHarvard University PressCambridgeGoogle Scholar
  55. Mayr, Ernst 1985“Weismann and Evolution”Journal of the History of Biology18295329CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Muller, H.J. 1939“How Genetic Systems Come About”Nature144648Google Scholar
  57. Muller H.J. (1943). “Edmund B. Wilson – an Appreciation,” American Naturalist 77: 5–37, 142–172.Google Scholar
  58. Newton, W.C.F., Darlington, C.D. 1927“Meiosis in a Triploid Tulip”Nature12013Google Scholar
  59. Polanyi, Michael 1967The Tacit DimensionDoubledayGarden City, NYGoogle Scholar
  60. Provine, William B. 1978“The Role of Mathematical Population Geneticists in the Evolutionary Synthesis of the 1930s and 1940s”Studies in History of Biology2167192Google Scholar
  61. Reuter, E. 1930“Beiträge zu einer einheitlichen Auffassung gewiser Chromosomen-fragen”Act. Zool. Fenn.91487Google Scholar
  62. Sapp, Jan 1987“What Counts as Evidence or Who was Franz Moewus and Why Was Everybody Saying Such Terrible Things About Him”History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences9277308Google Scholar
  63. Sax, Karl 1932“Meiosis and Chiasma Formation in Paeonia suffruticosa”Journal of the Arnold ArboretumXIII375385Google Scholar
  64. Schrader, Franz. 1948. “Three Quarter-Centuries of Cytology,” In Address by the vice-president and chairman of the Section of Zoological Sciences (F), AAAS, delivered at the Zoologists’ Dinner, December 30, 1947, Chicago, Illinois. Science 107: 155–159.Google Scholar
  65. Smocovitis, Vassiliki Betty 1996Unifying Biology: The Evolutionary Synthesis and Evolutionary BiologyPrinceton University PressPrincetonGoogle Scholar
  66. Stebbins, G. L. 1941. Review in Chronica Botanica VI 17/18: 429–430.Google Scholar
  67. Stern, Curt 1931“Zytologische-genetische Untersuchungen als Beweise für die Morgansche Theorie des Faktorenaustausch”Biologisches Zentralblatt51547587Google Scholar
  68. Sturtevant, A.H 1965A History of GeneticsHarper and RowNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  69. Sturtevant, A.H., Beadle, G.W. 1939An Introduction to GeneticsW.B. Saunders CompanyPhiladelphiaGoogle Scholar
  70. Weismann, August 1886Die Bedeutung der sexuellen Fortpflanzung für die SelektionstheorieVerlag von Gustav FisherJenaGoogle Scholar
  71. Weismann, August 1887“On the Significance of the Polar Globules”Nature36607609Google Scholar
  72. Weismann, August. 1975. Studies in the Theory of Descent, Mendola, R. (trans. and ed.). New York: AMS Press.Google Scholar
  73. White, M.J.D. 1945Animal Cytology and EvolutionCambridge University PressLondonGoogle Scholar
  74. Wilson, E.B. 1925The Cell In Development and Heredity3MacmillanNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  75. Winiwarter, Hans 1900“Recherches sur l’ovogenèse et l’orgenogenèse de l’ovaire des mammifères (Lapin et Homme)Archives de Biologie1733200Google Scholar
  76. Zickler, D., Kleckner, N. 1999“Meiotic Chromosomes: Integrating Structure and Function”Annual Review of Genetics33603754CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oren Solomon HarmanRehavaIsrael

Personalised recommendations