“The Real Point is Control”: The Reception of Barbara McClintock's Controlling Elements

  title={“The Real Point is Control”: The Reception of Barbara McClintock's Controlling Elements},
  author={Nathaniel Comfort},
  journal={Journal of the History of Biology},
  • N. Comfort
  • Published 1999
  • History
  • Journal of the History of Biology
In the standard narrative of her life, Barbara McClintock discovered genetic transposition in the 1940s but no one believed her. She was ignored until molecular biologists of the 1970s “rediscovered” transposition and vindicated her heretical discovery. New archival documents, as well as interviews and close reading of published papers, belie this narrative. Transposition was accepted immediately by both maize and bacterial geneticists. Maize geneticists confirmed it repeatedly in the early… 

A tale of two biographies: the myth and truth of Barbara McClintock

  • E. Shah
  • Art
    History and philosophy of the life sciences
  • 2016
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The origin and prevalence of transposable elements (TEs) may best be understood as resulting from “selfish” evolutionary processes at the within-genome level, with relevant populations being all

Determinism and Underdetermination in Genetics: Implications for Students’ Engagement in Argumentation and Epistemic Practices

In the last two decades science studies and science education research have shifted from an interest in products (of science or of learning), to an interest in processes and practices. The focus of

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The genetic basis of evolutionary change in gene expression levels

A systematic integration of ideas that combines global mapping studies, cis/trans tests and modern population genetics methodologies, in order to directly estimate the forces acting on regulatory variation within and between species is proposed.

EXPOsing gender in science: a visual analysis with lessons for gender awareness and science diplomacy

Abstract Worldwide mega-events have a significant political purpose, demonstrating various commitments to topics, such as energy conservation and gender equality. Gendered imagery at these major



Genetics and the Physiology of Development

The Sedgwick Lecture, given this year at Woods Hole, seems a suitable occasion to discuss some of the problems common to the three fields of research, including genetics, physiology and embryology.

Marginalia to McClintock's Work on Mutable Loci in Maize

A discussion of the data in maize show a remarkable parallelism to older work in a completely different field, namely, the analysis of intersexuality, which might help to make some parts of the new work in maize appear less unusual and vice versa, and show how the trend of ideas on the nature of the genic material is consistently going in a definite direction away from the classical theory of the gene.

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This report is an analysis of the pale green mutable gene system and its various components, which is similar in many ways to previously described systems and, in addition, there is evidence for an even closer relationship of component parts.

The Feminine Method as Myth and Accounting Resource: A Challenge to Gender Studies and Social Studies of Science

Some recent feminist analyses of science have focused on the method of science, claiming that it displays stereotypically masculine gender traits, and counterposing it to a putatively alternative

Some Parallels Between Gene Control Systems in Maize and in Bacteria

In this article, McClintock attempted to link the regulation of controlling elements to observations made by Francois Jacob, Jacques Monod, and Andre Lwoff on bacterial operons in 1960 to establish her preeminence in the study of gene regulation.

The origin and behavior of mutable loci in maize

  • B. Mcclintock
  • Biology
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • 1950
A phenomenon of rare occurrence in maize began to appear with remarkably high frequencies in the cultures and the terms mutable genes, unstable genes, variegation, mosaicism, mutable loci or “position-effect” have been applied to this phenomenon.

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