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Darwin and Mendel: The Historical Connection.

Darwin carried out a host of carefully controlled cross- and self-pollination experiments in a wide variety of plants, and made a significant and imperishable contribution to the knowledge of hybridization. He not only clearly described the phenomenon of what he called prepotency and what we now call dominance or Mendelian inheritance, but also explained it by his Pangenesis. Recent discovery of small RNAs acting as dominance modifiers supports his Pangenesis regarding the control of prepotency by gemmules. Historical studies show that there is striking evidence that Mendel read Darwin's The Origin of Species, which had influenced his paper presented in 1865 and published in 1866. Although Mendel's paper has been considered a classic in the history of genetics, it generated much controversy since its rediscovery. Mendel's position as the father of genetics is being seriously challenged. Darwin's main contribution to genetics was the collection of a tremendous amount of genetic data, and the formulation of a comprehensive genetical theory for their explanation. Over the past 150 years, however, Darwin's legacy to genetics, particularly his Pangenesis, has not been considered seriously by most geneticists. It is proposed that Darwin should have been regarded as one of the most important pioneers in genetics.

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