Pioneers of Mendelian Inheritance in Animals (PMIA)

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1903 Castle, W.E., Allen, G.M.
The heredity of albinism.
Proceedings of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences 38: 602-622

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This paper was received on 11 March 1903. This paper includes the first mention of Mendelian inheritance in a fish, namely albinism in trout.

The paper begins:

"This paper contains a preliminary statement of certain results of breeding experiments with mice, guinea-pigs, and rabbits, which have been conducted in the Zoological Laboratory of Harvard University during the last two and a half years. The experiments with mice are the work principally of the junior author [Allen]; those with guinea-pigs and rabbits, of the senior author [Castle]."

This tells us that Castle and Allen started their investigations of Mendelian inheritance in mice, guinea pigs and rabbits very soon after the rediscovery of Mendel's results. Importantly, this paper contains some (but not comprehensive) evidence in support of Castle's claims in earlier 1903 papers of Mendelian inheritance of albinism in those three species (see previous commentaries). The comprehensive evidence was published by Castle (1905).

The authors start with a comprehensive review of the Mendelian results for albinism in mice obtained by Cuénot (1902; see previous commentary). 

The evidence provided in this paper is that, for guinea pigs, rabbits, repeated matings of albino x albino (irrespective of parentage), produces only albino offspring. Interestingly, they cite similar evidence in trout from the United States Fish Commission, leading them to conclude that albinism in trout is also inherited in a Mendelian recessive manner. 

The remainder of the paper is devoted mainly to detailed discussion of various controversial coat-colour results in mice. 

The main conclusion is

"Complete albinism, without a recorded exception, behaves as a recessive character in heredity." 


Castle, W.E. (1905) Heredity of coat characters in guinea-pigs and rabbits. Carnegie Institute Publication Issue 23: 1-78. View this publication