One of the most advanced fields of science has turned out to be genetics. This complicated arena was first explored by Mendel, who was titled to be mad for putting forth what people those days thought to be hypothetical. It was only in the end of 19th century that Hugo De Vries suggested the concept of genes, rediscovered the laws of heredity, introduced the term mutation and developed the mutation theory of evolution.
Educated at the Universities of Leiden, Heideberg, Wurzburg, de Vries became a Professor at the University of Amsterdam in 1878. In 1886, while noticing the wild varieties of evening primrose (Oenothera Lamarckiana) , de Vries thought evolution could be studied experimentally. In his experiment he found that new forms of the evening primrose appeared randomly. These phenomena, he gave the name as mutations, which he showed to arise suddenly, distinct from Darwin’s theory of natural selection. This theory became the model for later researchers like Thomas Hunt Morgan to study mutations in a fruit fly until modern evolutionary synthesis became the dominant model in the 1930’s.
His follow up experiments led him to begin a program of plant breeding in 1892, and 8 years later, he rediscovered the laws of Mendel – the laws of heredity, although he was unaware while he conducted his experiment. While continuing research he discovered the Austrian monk’s paperwork and attributed the original discovery of the laws of heredity to Mendel. He also stated the genes can cross the species barrier with the same gene being responsible for hairiness in two different species of flower.
Within after the involvement of chromosomes was implicated, Hugo de Vries was the first to establish the fact that recombination takes place between two homologous chromosomes- a process that is now known as chromosomal crossovers.
De Vries retired from his service in 1918. He retreated to his estate in Lunteren where he had a large experimental garden and continued his studies with new life forms until his death in 1935.