Erich Von Tschermak: A Biography

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Erich von Tschermak

Erich von Tschermak-Seysenegg was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1871. His father was a mineralogist, Gustav Tschermak von Seysenegg, and his grandfather, Eduard Fenzl, was a botanist, who, at one point, taught Gregor Mendel. He studied agriculture at the University of Vienna, and worked on a farm to gain agricultural experience. Tschermak received his doctorate from the University of Halle, Germany, in 1896. He then accepted a teaching position in Vienna at the Academy of Agriculture in 1901, and became professor there five years later, in 1906.

Prior to working at the Academy of Agriculture in Vienna, Tschermak began breeding experiments with garden peas at the Botanical Garden of Ghent, Belgium, and then in garden at the Imperial Family's Foundation at Esslingen, near Vienna. Using 3,580 yellow peas and 1,190 green peas, Tschermak found that the second filial generation ratio of dominant to recessive was 3 to 1. While reading Mendel's work, Tschermak realized that not only did his experiments involve repeat crosses between yellow and green peas, but also that his results were identical to the 1866 results of Mendel.

Tschermak's discovery in 1900 of Mendel's work coincided with the independent findings of two other scientists. Dutch botanist Hugo De Vries published his results in March 1900, and German botanist Carl Correns presented his report on April 24, 1900; like Tschermak, both botanists had found copies of Mendel's work and referred to it when writing the results of their experiments with plant breeding. Tschermak, De Vries, and Correns fully credited Mendel

for first reaching the same conclusions and secured the historical impact of Mendel's research on the fields of genetics and heredity.

Tschermak derived Mendel’s laws of inheritance from his plant experiments. Tschermak was a plant breeder, and his experiments were done with the idea of improving crops using the laws of heredity. He produced high-yielding food...
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