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Germ Plasm Theory

  The germ plasm theory, in the life sciences, was formulated by August Weismann and presented as ‘The germ plasm: A theory of heredity’ in 1893. It envisaged the segregation of sex cells (germ plasm) from somatic (body) cells at an early stage in the development of the embryo so that they remain unaffected by the external and internal environment. It was thus a rejection of the idea that characteristics which are acquired during the life of an individual can be inherited by the offspring. The germ plasm is essentially immortal while the somatic tissues live only in one generation, for the lifetime of the individual; in the case of single-celled organisms which divide by binary fission (the production of two individuals from one), the organism itself is immortal. The germ plasm theory, correct in essence but not in detail, was the precursor to the gene theory and set the scene for it by producing an intellectual environment which was ripe for the acceptance of Mendel\'s work on genetics, published in 1866 but overlooked until 1900. RB

See also embryology; pangenesis.



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Other Terms : Naturalistic Fallacy | Heterosexuality | Reproduction
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