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Darwin's Man in BrazilThe Evolving Science of Fritz Müller$
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David A. West

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813062600

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813062600.001.0001

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Plant Movement, Heredity, and Variation, 1881–1887

Plant Movement, Heredity, and Variation, 1881–1887

(p.180) 9 Plant Movement, Heredity, and Variation, 1881–1887
Darwin's Man in Brazil

David A. West

University Press of Florida

Müller received Darwin’s Power of Movement in Plants in 1881. In response, he sent Darwin new evidence for universal nutational movement in plants and some functions it served. In 1883 Müller’s younger half brother, Wilhelm, joined Fritz for two years, working primarily on larval butterflies, their food plants, and their phylogeny. Wilhelm’s letters home describe Fritz and Caroline’s family life. Starting in 1885, correspondence with August Weismann explored the continuity of the germplasm. Weismann’s account implied that novel characteristics can only be generated by sexual mixing of germplasms with one exception: unicellular organisms have no separate somatic cells. Therefore, environmental change could yield inheritance of acquired characteristics. Müller denied this restriction. Continuity of the germplasm does not guarantee its constancy nor block novel heritable variations. Indeed, asexually propagating plants inherit novel variations, even when the variation originated in differentiated somatic cells: buds or runners occasionally transmit novel heritable characters to their offspring.

Keywords:   plant, movement, Müller household, August Weismann, heritable variation, inheritance, characteristics, acquired characteristics, germplasm, inheritance

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