Seymour Benzer and T4 rII
One of the goals of genetics is to understand genes in as much detail as possible. For instance, with respect to a given gene, one would like to know its chromosomal location, its physical and genetic size, its neighbours, the number of mutations/alleles defining the gene, the order of mutations, the genetic/physical distance between them, etc. Thus, rather than focusing on the whole genome, one focuses on the finer details of a given genetic segment. The exercise of probing such details is called ‘fine structure genetic analysis’. There are several pioneers who have contributed enormously to this area in many bacterial and phage systems. Two stalwarts, Seymour Benzer and Charles Yanofsky, stand preeminent among them. In the following pages I present briefly Benzer’s outstanding work on the fine structure of the rII region of bacteriopage T4. These path-breaking studies contributed significantly to our understanding of the structure, organization and function of genes.
KeywordsGenetic fine structure mapping T4 rII cis-trans test
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