DNA, RNA, Chromosomes, and Genes


Who first observed chromosomes?

Chromosomes were observed as early as 1872, when Baltic German biologist Edmund August Friedrich Russow (1841–1897) described seeing items that resembled small rods during cell division; he named the rods “Stäbchen.” Belgian cytologist Edouard van Beneden (1846–1910) used the term “bâtonnet” in 1875 to describe nuclear duplication. The following year, French embryologist Edouard-Gérard Balbiani (1825–1899) described that at the time of cell division the nucleus dissolved into a collection of bâtonnets étroits (French for “narrow little rods”). German biologist Walther Flemming (1843–1905) discovered that the chromosomal “threads” (or “Fäden”) split longitudinally during mitosis (Flemming is also called the founder of cytogenetics).


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