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BLENDING THEORY

RATIONALE
Definition: 1) The inheritance pattern of a system involving incomplete dominance, whereby characters are inherited in heterozygous individuals that show the effect of both alleles. As a result the inherited characters in the offspring are intermediate between those of the parents.
2)

The idea that the individuals inherit a smooth blend of traits from their parents.

What is Blending Theory? Blending theory was the commonly held belief that characteristics were mixed in each generation. For example, breeding two horses, one with a light-colored coat, the other dark, would result in offspring that were all intermediate in coat color. If this held true, then eventually all organisms would become more alike in each generation. Although this theory persisted for many years, it was eventually supplanted by the work of Mendel and the modern geneticists. Blending Theory of Heredity: 1. Pre-mendalian theory of heredity proposing that material from each parent mixes in the offspring; once blended like two liquids in solution, the heredity material is inseparable and the offspring's. 2. Individuals of a population should reach a uniform appearance after many generations.

3.

Once traits blended, they cannot be separated out to appear again in later generations.

Explanation: Before Mendel's work, the most popular theory of inheritance stated that the qualities of the parents blended to form the qualities of the child. Under this theory, one tall parent and one short parent would produce a child of medium height. Most ordinary observations seemed to support this hypothesis, which rejected the notion of discrete units of inheritance (i.e., genes). However, this theory was poorly equipped to deal with such phenomena as two brown-eyed parents giving birth to a blue-eyed baby. Though Darwin himself subscribed to the blending theory, it would clearly dilute any "favorable" characteristics acquired by mutation, thereby halting the evolutionary process. Only with the introduction of Mendel's work did the theory of evolution acquire a concrete, consistent framework of heredity.

Example of Blending Inheritance:

Example of blending inheritance using the color of flowers to show how a species color variation would converge upon one color in relatively few generations if its offsprings color variations were truly bounded by the parents colors

History: The obvious shortcomings, such as those mentioned above, with the blending inheritance model were not completely lost to every 19th century thinker. In fact, these inadequacies made for an atmosphere in which many lesser-known, and equally unconvincing, 19th century "arm-chair" hypotheses to be formulated and circulated in attempts to explain inheritance more adequately It took the experiments of Gregor Mendel, presented in Experiments on Plant Hybridization, to finally provide a better model than the one proposed by blending inheritance, and to dismiss the myriad of other speculative ideas erupting at this time. Mendel discredited blending inheritance theory by proposing the theory of particulate inheritance. Darwin himself also had strong doubts of the blending inheritance hypothesis, despite incorporating a limited form of it into his own explanation of inheritance published in 1868, called pangenesis. Not least of all, his objections likely arose because it conflicted with his own theory of natural selection. This incompatibility was also noted by a contemporary critic of Darwin's, Fleeming Jenkin, in a now infamous excoriation of Darwin's Origin of Species. Jenkins, a strong proponent of the blending inheritance idea, used blending inheritance to argue against the plausibility of natural selection itself. If one was to assume that blending inheritance was at work, Jenkins argued that any favorable trait that might arise in a lineage, for which natural selection could possibly work upon, would naturally be blended away from that lineage long before the much slower processes of natural selection could act upon it and improve it. Moreover, prior to Jenkin, Darwin expressed his own distrust of blending inheritance to both T.H. Huxley and Alfred Wallace. In a letter to Wallace, dated February 6, 1866 (coincidentally, this was the same year Mendel formally published the aforementioned article), Darwin mentioned conducting hybridization experiments

very similar to Mendel's, with pea plants no less, to prove to himself that blending inheritance did not work as a model for inheritance in certain varieties of species. Legacy of Blending Theory: Blending inheritance is similar to the modern legitimate idea of incomplete dominance and the terms are rarely, but incorrectly, used interchangeably by some. However, incomplete dominance results in blending only of the phenotype, keeping the alleles within the heterozygote distinct (and, thus still inheritable in successive generations), whereas the theory of blending inheritance referred to an actual blending of the genetic material (i.e. in modern terms, alleles would blend together to form a completely new allele). Blending Theory & Gregor Mendel:

Gregor Mendel Although the science of genetics began with the applied and theoretical work of Gregor Mendel in the mid-19th

century, other theories of inheritance preceded Mendel. A popular theory during Mendel's time was the concept of blending inheritance: the idea that individuals inherit a smooth blend of traits from their parents. Mendel's work disproved this, showing that traits are composed of combinations of distinct genes rather than a continuous blend. Mendel discredited blending inheritance theory by proposing the theory of particulate inheritance. Blending inheritance was the common ideal at the time, but was later discredited by the experiments of Gregor Mendel. Mendel proposed the theory of particulate inheritance by using pea plants (Pisum sativum) to explain how variation can be inherited and maintained over time. PARTICULATE INHERITANCE OF MENDEL SAYS: Particulate inheritance is a pattern of inheritance discovered by Mendelian theorists (or by Gregor Mendel himself) showing that characteristics can be passed from generation to generation through "discrete particles" (now known as genes). These particles can keep their ability to be expressed while not always appearing in a descending generation Contradiction by other Scientists About Blending Theory:MENDEL: Mendel discredited blending inheritance theory by proposing the theory of particulate inheritance.

DARWIN:

Darwin himself also had strong doubts of the blending inheritance hypothesis, despite incorporating a limited form of it into his own explanation of inheritance published in 1868, and called pangenesis. Not least of all, his objections likely arose because it conflicted with his own theory of natural selection. FLEEMING JENKIN: This incompatibility was also noted by a contemporary critic of Darwin's, Fleeming Jenkin, in a now infamous excoriation of Darwin's Origin of Species. Jenkin, a strong proponent of the blending inheritance idea, used blending inheritance to argue against the plausibility of natural selection itself. If one was to assume that blending inheritance was at work, Jenkins argued that any favorable trait that might arise in a lineage for which natural selection could possibly work upon, would naturally be blended away from that lineage long before the much slower processes of natural selection could act upon it and improve it. CONCLUSION: Many biologists and other academics held to the idea of blending inheritance during the 19th century, prior to the discovery of genetics. Blending inheritance was merely a widespread hypothetical model, rather than a formalized scientific theory (it was never formally presented to a scientific body, nor published in any scientific journals, nor ascribed to any specific person), in which it was thought inherited traits were determined, randomly, from a range bounded by the homologous traits found in the parents. The height of a person, with one short parent and one tall parent, was thought to always be of some interim value between its two parents' heights. The shortcoming to this idea was in how it required the person of interim height, in turn, to then become one of the limiting bounds (either upper or lower) for future offspring, and so on down the entire lineage. Thus, in each family, the potential for variation would tend to

narrow, quite dramatically, with each generation, and, so it would go for the entire population with every trait. If blending inheritance were true, in this example, all members of a species would eventually converge upon a single value for height for all members. In short, "blending inheritance is incompatible...with obvious fact. If it were really true that variation disappeared, every generation should be more uniform than the previous one. By now, all individuals should be as indistinguishable as clones." In addition, blending inheritance failed to explain how traits that seemingly disappeared for several generations often reasserted themselves down the line, unaltered. Blue eyes and blond hair, for example, often could disappear from a family's lineage for several generations, only to have two brownhaired, brown-eyed parents give birth to a blond, blue-eyed child. If blending inheritance were fact, this could not be possible.

REFERENCES: www.wikipedia.org www.answers.com library.thinkquest.org www.sciencebugz.com