A cover of The Journal of Genetics

A cover of The Journal of Genetics

William Bateson Coins the Term "Genetics"

1900 to 1902

In 1900, very soon after Mendel's laws were rediscovered by De Vries, Correns, and Tschermak, the Royal Horticultural Society of England published an English translation of Mendel's 1866 paper as "Experiments in Plant-Hybridisation" in the Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society. Two years later, in 1902, English geneticist and Fellow of St. John's College, Cambridge, William Bateson issued Mendel's Principles of Heredity: a Defense as a small book in a small edition from Cambridge University Press, reprinting 1900 translation together with the first English translation of Mendel's second paper on Hieracium (1869). Bateson's book was the first English textbook on genetics, though the word did not yet exist; Bateson named the science "genetics: in 1905-6. 

Bateson became the chief popularizer of the ideas of Mendel following their rediscovery. In 1909 he published a much-expanded version of his 1902 textbook entitled Mendel's Principles of Heredity. This book, which underwent several printings, was the primary means by which Mendel's work became widely known to readers of English.

"Bateson first suggested using the word "genetics" (from the Greek gennō, γεννώ; "to give birth") to describe the study of inheritance and the science of variation in a personal letter to Alan Sedgwick... dated April 18, 1905. Bateson first used the term genetics publicly at the Third International Conference on Plant Hybridization in London in 1906. This was three years before Wilhelm Johannsen used the word "gene" to describe the units of hereditary information. De Vries had introduced the word "pangene" for the same concept already in 1889, and etymologically the word genetics has parallels with Darwin's concept of pangenesis.

"Bateson co-discovered genetic linkage with Reginald Punnett, and he and Punnett founded the Journal of Genetics in 1910. Bateson also coined the term "epistasis" to describe the genetic interaction of two independent traits" (Wikipedia article William Bateson, accessed 12-16-2013).

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