A Caltech Library Service

Genetic Control of Biochemical Reactions in Neurospora

Beadle, G. W. and Tatum, E. L. (1941) Genetic Control of Biochemical Reactions in Neurospora. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 27 (11). pp. 499-506. ISSN 0027-8424. doi:10.1073/pnas.27.11.499.

PDF - Published Version
See Usage Policy.


Use this Persistent URL to link to this item:


From the standpoint of physiological genetics the development and functioning of an organism consist essentially of an integrated system of chemical reactions controlled in some manner by genes. It is entirely tenable to suppose that these genes which are themselves a part of the system, control or regulate specific reactions in the system either by acting directly as enzymes or by determining the specificities of enzymes [1]. Since the components of such a system are likely to be interrelated in complex ways, and since the synthesis of the parts of individual genes are presumably dependent on the functioning of other genes, it would appear that there must exist orders of directness of gene control ranging from simple one-to-one relations to relations of great complexity. In investigating the rôles of genes, the physiological geneticist usually attempts to determine the physiological and biochemical bases of already known hereditary traits. This approach, as made in the study of anthocyanin pigments in plants [2], the fermentation of sugars by yeasts [3] and a number of other instances [4], has established that many biochemical reactions are in fact controlled in specific ways by specific genes. Furthermore, investigations of this type tend to support the assumption that gene and enzyme specificities are of the same order [5]. There are, however, a number of limitations inherent in this approach. Perhaps the most serious of these is that the investigator must in general confine himself to a study of nonlethal heritable characters. Such characters are likely to involve more or less non-essential so-called "terminal" reactions [5]. The selection of these for genetic study was perhaps responsible for the now rapidly disappearing belief that genes are concerned only with the control of "superficial" characters. A second difficulty, not unrelated to the first, is that the standard approach to the problem implies the use of characters with visible manifestations. Many such characters involve morphological variations, and these are likely to be based on systems of biochemical reactions so complex as to make analysis exceedingly difficult.

Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
Additional Information:Copyright © 1941 by the National Academy of Sciences. Communicated October 8, 1941. Work supported in part by a grant from the Rockefeller Foundation. The authors are indebted to Doctors B.O. Dodge, C.C. Lindegren and W.S. Malloch for stocks and for advice on techniques, and to Miss Caryl Parker for technical assistance.
Funding AgencyGrant Number
Rockefeller FoundationUNSPECIFIED
Issue or Number:11
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:BEApnas41
Persistent URL:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:13093
Deposited By: Archive Administrator
Deposited On:17 Jan 2009 06:48
Last Modified:08 Nov 2021 22:35

Repository Staff Only: item control page