, Volume 13, Issue 10, pp 898–908 | Cite as

Seymour Benzer and T4 rII

Running the map into the ground
  • R. Jayaraman
General / Article


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.


Genetic fine structure mapping T4 rII cis-trans test 


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Suggested reading

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    W Hayes, Genetics of bacteria and their viruses, 2nd Edition, John Wiley & Sons, New York, 1968.Google Scholar
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    T D Brock, The emergence of bacterial genetics, Cold Spring Harbor Press, Cold Spring Harbor, New York, USA, 1990.Google Scholar
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    S Benzer, In phage and the origins of molecular biology, pp. 157–165. Cold Spring Harbor Press,Cold Spring Harbor, New York, USA, 1966. (This is a beautiful account, in Benzer’s own words, on how he got to work on the T4 rII system).Google Scholar
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    W A Harris, Seymour Benzer (1921–2007): The Man who took us from Genes to Behaviour. PloS Biol. 6(2). e41 (A brief obituary essay on the Life, Work and Achievements of Seymour Benzer).Google Scholar
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    G S Stent and R Calendar, Molecular Genetics: an Introductory Narrative, W H Freeman & Company, San Francisco, USA, 1978.Google Scholar
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    Seymour Benzer, The Fine Structure of the Gene, Scientific American, Vol.206, No.1, pp.70–80, 1962.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Indian Academy of Sciences 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Biological SciencesMadurai Kamaraj UniversityMaduraiIndia

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