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Seymour Benzer 1921 – 2007 The Man Who Took Us from Genes to Behaviour

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Though Seymour had good job prospects in several physics departments, Lark-Horovitz offered him an Assistant Professorship at Purdue and, helping him make the transition to biology, granted Seymour an immediate leave-of-absence to begin postdoctoral research in phage genetics... This is a period of his life about which Seymour used to reminisce with great fondness to his later students and post-docs, as it was during those years that he and Dotty formed great friendships with many of the historic figures of the early days of molecular biology, such as Max Delbruck and his colleagues at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where Seymour spent two years, and André Lwoff and his colleagues at the Pasteur Institute, where Seymour spent another year... This period of Seymour's research actually starts four decades earlier, when Alfred Sturtevant used the small fruit fly Drosophila to show that genetic factors map in a colinear array along chromosomes, based on the principle that the lower the frequency of recombination between them, the closer together the factors must be... The r mutants themselves would produce no plaques, but if in any of the progeny there was a recombination between these two different mutations, that could produce a wild-type phage, which would produce a plaque on this bacterial strain... He started feeding flies mutagens and then picking phototaxis mutants... Many mutants, though they appeared healthy, did not run to the light... Some of these, Seymour found, were blind because their photoreceptors did not transduce light, but others had defects at higher brain levels... Interestingly, he also found mutants that went into fits and others that were paralysed by being banged to the bottom of the tube... There were learning mutants, optomotor mutants, paralytic mutants, hyperexcitable mutants, mutants that dropped dead because their brains degenerated early, homosexual mutants, etc... Was he foolish enough to imagine that it was going to be something simple like “one gene—one behaviour?” But Seymour was undaunted... He liked to ask what he referred to as “stupid questions”, because he believed that if you asked very naïve questions, you often found surprising answers... And although he continued to study Drosophila, his association with Carol led him to do more medically relevant biology, such as Drosophila models of neurogenerative diseases... In recent years, he and his colleagues found several mutants that dramatically extended the average lifespan of Drosophila, the first of which he called “Methuselah”.

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Seymour Benzer in his office at Caltech in 1974 with a big model of Drosophila. He had a great deal of respect for an animal that not only can perform many sophisticated behaviours that humans do—such as learning, courting, and keeping time—but can also walk on the ceiling and fly.
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pbio-0060041-g001: Seymour Benzer in his office at Caltech in 1974 with a big model of Drosophila. He had a great deal of respect for an animal that not only can perform many sophisticated behaviours that humans do—such as learning, courting, and keeping time—but can also walk on the ceiling and fly.


Seymour Benzer 1921 – 2007 The Man Who Took Us from Genes to Behaviour
Seymour Benzer in his office at Caltech in 1974 with a big model of Drosophila. He had a great deal of respect for an animal that not only can perform many sophisticated behaviours that humans do—such as learning, courting, and keeping time—but can also walk on the ceiling and fly.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

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getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC2235899&req=5

pbio-0060041-g001: Seymour Benzer in his office at Caltech in 1974 with a big model of Drosophila. He had a great deal of respect for an animal that not only can perform many sophisticated behaviours that humans do—such as learning, courting, and keeping time—but can also walk on the ceiling and fly.

View Article: PubMed Central

AUTOMATICALLY GENERATED EXCERPT
Please rate it.

Though Seymour had good job prospects in several physics departments, Lark-Horovitz offered him an Assistant Professorship at Purdue and, helping him make the transition to biology, granted Seymour an immediate leave-of-absence to begin postdoctoral research in phage genetics... This is a period of his life about which Seymour used to reminisce with great fondness to his later students and post-docs, as it was during those years that he and Dotty formed great friendships with many of the historic figures of the early days of molecular biology, such as Max Delbruck and his colleagues at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), where Seymour spent two years, and André Lwoff and his colleagues at the Pasteur Institute, where Seymour spent another year... This period of Seymour's research actually starts four decades earlier, when Alfred Sturtevant used the small fruit fly Drosophila to show that genetic factors map in a colinear array along chromosomes, based on the principle that the lower the frequency of recombination between them, the closer together the factors must be... The r mutants themselves would produce no plaques, but if in any of the progeny there was a recombination between these two different mutations, that could produce a wild-type phage, which would produce a plaque on this bacterial strain... He started feeding flies mutagens and then picking phototaxis mutants... Many mutants, though they appeared healthy, did not run to the light... Some of these, Seymour found, were blind because their photoreceptors did not transduce light, but others had defects at higher brain levels... Interestingly, he also found mutants that went into fits and others that were paralysed by being banged to the bottom of the tube... There were learning mutants, optomotor mutants, paralytic mutants, hyperexcitable mutants, mutants that dropped dead because their brains degenerated early, homosexual mutants, etc... Was he foolish enough to imagine that it was going to be something simple like “one gene—one behaviour?” But Seymour was undaunted... He liked to ask what he referred to as “stupid questions”, because he believed that if you asked very naïve questions, you often found surprising answers... And although he continued to study Drosophila, his association with Carol led him to do more medically relevant biology, such as Drosophila models of neurogenerative diseases... In recent years, he and his colleagues found several mutants that dramatically extended the average lifespan of Drosophila, the first of which he called “Methuselah”.

No MeSH data available.