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GenesisThe Evolution of Biology$
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Jan Sapp

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780195156195

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195156195.001.0001

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Genes, Germs, and Enzymes

Genes, Germs, and Enzymes

(p.157) 14 Genes, Germs, and Enzymes

Jan Sapp

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the development of the understanding of genes, enzymes, and microbial genetics. The first breakthrough in understanding how genes actually functioned in the cell was made by British physician Archibald Garrod, who, in 1908, discovered that a gene controlled biochemical reactions by directing the formation of a single enzyme. Geneticists claim that Garrod's insight was unappreciated and overlooked for several decades until it was rediscovered in the 1940s by George Beadle and Edward Tatum. They proposed that a gene acts by determining the specificity of a particular enzyme and thereby controls, in a primary way, enzymatic synthesis and other metabolic reactions in the organism. Their proposal, known as the “one-gene: one-enzyme” hypothesis, played a directive role in the development of biochemical genetics throughout the 1940s and 1950s.

Keywords:   genes, enzymes, Archibald Garrod, Edward Tatum, George Beadle, microbes, microbial genetics, one gene: one-enzyme hypothesis

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