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Journal of the History of Biology

Michelle Lynne LaBonte
In 1971, Günter Blobel and David Sabatini proposed a novel and quite speculative schematic model to describe how proteins might reach the proper cellular location. According to their proposal, proteins destined to be secreted from the cell contain a "signal" to direct their release. Despite the fact that Blobel and Sabatini presented their signal hypothesis as a "beautiful idea" not grounded in experimental evidence, they received criticism from other scientists who opposed such speculation. Following the publication of the 1971 model, Blobel persisted in conducting experiments and revising the model to incorporate new data...
January 27, 2017: Journal of the History of Biology
Michael R Dietrich
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
January 10, 2017: Journal of the History of Biology
Michael R Dietrich
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
January 9, 2017: Journal of the History of Biology
Christine Keiner
As the Panama Canal approached its fiftieth anniversary in the mid-1960s, U.S. officials concerned about the costs of modernization welcomed the technology of peaceful nuclear excavation to create a new waterway at sea level. Biologists seeking a share of the funds slated for radiological-safety studies called attention to another potential effect which they deemed of far greater ecological and evolutionary magnitude - marine species exchange, an obscure environmental issue that required the expertise of underresourced life scientists...
January 5, 2017: Journal of the History of Biology
Daniel Liu
This article revisits the development of the protoplasm concept as it originally arose from critiques of the cell theory, and examines how the term "protoplasm" transformed from a botanical term of art in the 1840s to the so-called "living substance" and "the physical basis of life" two decades later. I show that there were two major shifts in biological materialism that needed to occur before protoplasm theory could be elevated to have equal status with cell theory in the nineteenth century. First, I argue that biologists had to accept that life could inhere in matter alone, regardless of form...
December 5, 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Rivers Singleton, David R Singleton
The Dutch microbiologist/biochemist Albert Jan Kluyver (1888-1956) was an early proponent of the idea of biochemical unity, and how that concept might be demonstrated through the careful study of microbial life. The fundamental relatedness of living systems is an obvious correlate of the theory of evolution, and modern attempts to construct phylogenetic schemes support this relatedness through comparison of genomes. The approach of Kluyver and his scientific descendants predated the tools of modern molecular biology by decades...
February 2017: Journal of the History of Biology
Simone Schleper
This article looks at the International Biological Program (IBP) as the predecessor of UNESCO's well-known and highly successful Man and the Biosphere Programme (MAB). It argues that international conservation efforts of the 1970s, such as the MAB, must in fact be understood as a compound of two opposing attempts to reform international conservation in the 1960s. The scientific framework of the MAB has its origins in disputes between high-level conservationists affiliated with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) about what the IBP meant for the future of conservation...
February 2017: Journal of the History of Biology
Kuang-Chi Hung
In 1859, Harvard botanist Asa Gray (1810-1888) published an essay of what he called "the abstract of Japan botany." In it, he applied Charles Darwin's evolutionary theory to explain why strong similarities could be found between the flora of Japan and that of eastern North America, which provoked his famous debate with Louis Agassiz (1807-1873) and initiated Gray's efforts to secure a place for Darwinian biology in the American sciences. Notably, although the Gray-Agassiz debate has become one of the most thoroughly studied scientific debates, historians of science remain unable to answer one critical question: How was Gray able to acquire specimens from Japan? Making use of previously unknown archival materials, this article scrutinizes the institutional, instrumental, financial, and military settings that enabled Gray's collector, Charles Wright (1811-1885), to travel to Japan, as well as examine Wright's collecting practices in Japan...
February 2017: Journal of the History of Biology
Andrés Galera
This paper analyzes the impact that Lamarckian evolutionary theory had in the scientific community during the period between the advent of Zoological Philosophy and the publication Origin of Species. During these 50 years Lamarck's model was a well known theory and it was discussed by the scientific community as a hypothesis to explain the changing nature of the fossil record throughout the history of Earth. Lamarck's transmutation theory established the foundation of an evolutionary model introducing a new way to research in nature...
February 2017: Journal of the History of Biology
Laurent Loison, Jean Gayon, Richard M Burian
This article shows how Lamarckism was essential in the birth of the French school of molecular biology. We argue that the concept of inheritance of acquired characters positively shaped debates surrounding bacteriophagy and lysogeny in the Pasteurian tradition during the interwar period. During this period the typical Lamarckian account of heredity treated it as the continuation of protoplasmic physiology in daughter cells. Félix d'Hérelle applied this conception to argue that there was only one species of bacteriophage and Jules Bordet applied it to develop an account of bacteriophagy as a transmissible form of autolysis and to analyze the new phenomenon of lysogeny...
February 2017: Journal of the History of Biology
Garland E Allen
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
December 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Everett Mendelsohn
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
December 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
John Beatty
This is the first of a two-part essay on the history of debates concerning the creativity of natural selection, from Darwin through the evolutionary synthesis and up to the present. Here I focus on the mid-late nineteenth century to the early twentieth, with special emphasis on early Darwinism and its critics, the self-styled "mutationists." The second part focuses on the evolutionary synthesis and some of its critics, especially the "neutralists" and "neo-mutationists." Like Stephen Gould, I consider the creativity of natural selection to be a key component of what has traditionally counted as "Darwinism...
December 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Michael R Dietrich
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
December 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Richard W Burkhardt
Just as biologists have their favored places for doing research, so do historians. As someone who likes working in archives, the most surprising thing the present author ever found was a particular letter that had been written to him by the ethologist Niko Tinbergen-but that Tinbergen had never sent. The letter included a detailed critique of the intellectual style and conceptual shortcomings of Tinbergen's career-long friend and colleague Konrad Lorenz. The present author first saw the letter 3 years after Tinbergen's death and 10 years after the letter was composed...
December 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Diane B Paul
By the 1950s, eugenics had lost its scientific status; it now belonged to the context rather than to the content of science. Interest in the subject was also at low ebb. But that situation would soon change dramatically. Indeed, in an essay-review published in 1993, Philip Pauly commented that a "eugenics industry" had come to rival the "Darwin industry" in importance, although the former seemed less integrated than the latter. Since then, the pace of publication on eugenics, including American eugenics, has only accelerated, while the field has become even more fractured, moving in multiple and even contradictory directions...
December 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
William Bechtel
The pursuit of mechanistic explanations in biology has produced a great deal of knowledge about the parts, operations, and organization of mechanisms taken to be responsible for biological phenomena. Holist critics have often raised important criticisms of proposed mechanistic explanations, but until recently holists have not had alternative research strategies through which to advance explanations. This paper argues both that the results of mechanistic strategies has forced mechanists to confront ways in which whole systems affect their components and that new representational and modeling strategies are providing tools for understanding these effects of whole systems upon components...
December 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Kim Kleinman
In introgressive hybridization (the repeated backcrossing of hybrids with parental populations), Edgar Anderson found a source for variation upon which natural selection could work. In his 1953 review article "Introgressive Hybridization," he asserted that he was "bringing taxonomy to the service of genetics" whereas distinguished colleagues such as Theodosius Dobzhansky and Ernst Mayr did the precise opposite. His work as a geneticist particularly focused on linkage and recombination and was enriched by collaborations with Missouri Botanical Garden colleagues interested in taxonomy as well as with cytologists C...
December 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Jane Maienschein
Garland E. Allen's 1978 biography of the Nobel Prize winning biologist Thomas Hunt Morgan provides an excellent study of the man and his science. Allen presents Morgan as an opportunistic scientist who follows where his observations take him, leading him to his foundational work in Drosophila genetics. The book was rightfully hailed as an important achievement and it introduced generations of readers to Morgan. Yet, in hindsight, Allen's book largely misses an equally important part of Morgan's work - his study of development and regeneration...
December 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
Paul Lawrence Farber
Dobzhansky and Montagu debated the use and validity of the term "race" over a period of decades. They failed to reach an agreement, and the "debate" has continued to the present. The ms contains an account of the debate to the present. This essay is part of a Special Issue, Revisiting Garland Allen's Views on the History of the Life Sciences in the Twentieth Century.
December 2016: Journal of the History of Biology
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