Biology as Poetry: Genetics

Bacteriophage Ecology Group

One Gene, One Enzyme

Early biochemical concept of the relationship between genotype and phenotype.

The One Gene, One Enzyme concept was developed by Beadle and Tatum in the 1940s based on the study of auxotrophic mutations in the fungus, Neurospora crassa. The basic idea is that each mutation tended to knock out the functioning of one enzyme necessary to generate a specific product that, in this case, could otherwise be obtained from environment.

This observation suggested that each mutated gene encoded one enzyme. Though a key insight, the concept as stated represents a special case of a more general principle, and that is that genes give rise to gene products and do so through combinations of transcription and translation.

Reconsidered today, the One Gene, One Enzyme concept might be better stated as One Gene, One RNA, or even One Gene, One Functional RNA (and certainly One Gene, One Gene Product). See also what is a gene?

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