The Evolutionary Significance of Biological Templates

  • George Ledyard Stebbins


In his exciting autobiography, The Double Helix, James Watson cites an old but vague hypothesis about the nature of heredity as follows (p. 127): “The argument went that gene duplication required the formation of a complementary (negative) image where shape was related to the original (positive) surface like a lock to a key. The complementary negative image would then function as the mold (template) for the synthesis of a new positive image.” The remainder of his book tells the story of how he demonstrated that the gene is, in fact, a pair of templates which duplicates its pattern by making a new negative complementary to the existing positive simultaneously with a new positive complementary to the existing negative. The template principle is, therefore, the basis for the transmission of information in biological heredity.


Evolutionary Significance Protein Chain Tail Fiber Cellular Organism Modern Organism 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  • George Ledyard Stebbins
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaUSA

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