To use all functions of this page, please activate cookies in your browser.
With an accout for my.bionity.com you can always see everything at a glance – and you can configure your own website and individual newsletter.
- My watch list
- My saved searches
- My saved topics
- My newsletter
Soft inheritance is the term coined by Ernst Mayr to include such ideas as Lamarkism. It contrasts with modern ideas of inheritance, which Mayr called hard inheritance. Since Mendel, modern genetics has held that the hereditary material is impervious to environmental influences (except, of course, mutagenic effects). In soft inheritance "the genetic basis of characters could be modified either by direct induction by the environment, or by use and disuse, or by an intrinsic failure of constancy, and that this modified genotype was then transmitted to the next generation." Concepts of soft inheritance are usually associated with the ideas of Lamarck and Geoffroy. The concept of hard inheritance holds sway today.
Additional recommended knowledge
One of the first statements in favour of hard inheritance was made by the English surgeon William Lawrence in 1819. His ideas on heredity were many years ahead of their time, as this extract shows: "The offspring inherit only [their parents'] connate peculiarities and not any of the acquired qualities". This is as clear a rejection of soft inheritance as one can find. However, Lawrence qualified it by including the origin of birth defects owing to influences on the mother (an old folk superstition). So Mayr places Wilhelm His, Sr. in 1874 as the first unqualified rejection of soft inheritance.  August Weismann, in 1883, gave a comprehensive denial of Lamarkism (soft inheritance) and with his distinction between germ and soma provided a general ideology of hard inheritance which survives to the present day.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Soft_inheritance". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|