• Erich Steiner


Oenothera first became an object of genetic investigation in 1886 when Hugo De Vries introduced into his garden plants of Oenothera lamarckiana from a nearby abandoned potato field for an experimental study of the origin of species. De Vries had occasionally observed abberrant individuals in the wild population of this species which he felt might have evolutionary significance. Subsequently, he found among his garden cultures a series of variants, appearing in low frequencies, which differed sufficiently from the original strain that he considered them to be incipient new species. His experiments, carried out over the succeeding years, led to the publication in 1901 of Die Mutationstheorie in which he proposed the concept of mutation as the explanation for the origin of new species. A controversy soon arose as to whether the variants were true mutants or simply segregants from a heterozygous stock, thus casting doubt on the validity of De Vries’ theory. The question stimulated a great deal of research which over a period of some thirty years finally resulted in an understanding of the main features of the unique genetic behavior in Oenothera.


Pollen Tube Genetic Behavior Chromosome Configuration Segmental Interchange Incompatibility Allele 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erich Steiner
    • 1
  1. 1.Matthaei Botanical GardensUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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