The emergence of genetics from Festetics’ sheep through Mendel’s peas to Bateson’s chickens

Attila T. Szabó, Péter Poczai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


It is now common knowledge- but also a misbelief- that in 1905 William Bateson coined the term ` genetics' for the first time in his letter to Adam Sedgwick. This important term was already formulated 81 years ago in a paper written by a sheep- breeding noble called Imre ( Emmerich) Festetics, who still remains somewhat mysterious even today. The articles written by Festetics summarized the results of a series of lasting and elegant breeding experiments he had conducted on his own property. Selecting the best rams, Festetics had painstakingly crossed and backcrossed his sheep to reach betterwool quality. These experiments later turned out to reveal a better understanding of inheritance outlining genetics as a new branch of natural sciences.

Original languageEnglish
Article number63
JournalJournal of Genetics
Issue number2
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

Fields of Science

  • 1184 Genetics, developmental biology, physiology

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