Article ID: CBB001510264

Chromosomenindividualität or Entmischung? The Debate between Paolo Della Valle and Edmund B. Wilson (2015)


Volpone, Alessandro (Author)

History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences
Volume: 36, no. 3
Issue: 3
Pages: 404-414

Publication Date: 2015
Edition Details: Part of a Series: Crossroads between nature and culture: Papers in honour of Christiane Groeben
Language: English

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Italian cytologist Paolo Della Valle developed a theory of instable chromosomes (teoria dei cromosomi labili). He radically criticized the so-called Sutton--Boveri hypothesis (Martins and Martins, Genetics and Molecular Biology, 22:261--271, 1999), focusing on numerical constancy in the species and individuality. On the basis of bibliographical review and personal observations, he maintained that the chromosomes were neither stable bodies, nor permanent structures, but transitory cellular materials, resulting from the periodical re-arrangement of the chromatin during the cell division. German and English-speaking biologists reacted. The paper shows some content of the argumentations used by Thomas H. Montgomery and especially Edmund B. Wilson. The discussion was characterized by the same data which is interpreted by different scholars in different ways. And the point is that no one of them had the decisive test to demonstrate his own point of view. Wilson simply invoked on his behalf a certain `common sense', defending at least a `high degree of constancy'. The debate waned along with the reception of Morgan's chromosome theory of heredity, but only the advent of molecular biology definitively stated the nature of chromosomes as permanent structures of the cell.

Included in

Article Bernardi, Giorgio; Fantini, Bernardino; Dröscher, Ariane (2015) Crossroads between Nature and Culture: An Introduction. History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences (pp. 301-304). unapi

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Authors & Contributors
Volpone, Alessandro
Rushton, Alan R.
Roll-Hansen, Nils
Falk, Raphael
Satzinger, Helga
Ogilvie, Marilyn Bailey
Journal of the History of Biology
Physis: Rivista Internazionale di Storia della Scienza
Perspectives in Biology and Medicine
Biology and Philosophy
Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences
Social Studies of Science
Greenwood Press
Morgan, Thomas Hunt
Bateson, William
Wilson, Edmund Beecher
Johannsen, Wilhelm Ludvig
Galton, Francis
Darwin, Charles Robert
Time Periods
20th century, early
19th century
20th century
United States
Great Britain
Human Genome Project

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