Cytology Fertilization and Alternation of Generations

Studies on cytology, fertilization, and alternation of generations advanced considerably during the 1800's because advances in the quality of microscopes and slide-preparation techniques allowed botanists to achieve a more precise understanding than had been possible earlier. Charles-François Brisseau de Mirbel initiated French cytology with studies on plant anatomy, seeds, and embryos (1800-1832). Brown used a microscope to discover the cell nucleus. Matthias Jakob Schleiden, who used the improved microscopes, is credited with establishing the cell theory in plants—after his colleague. Theodor Schwann had done so for animals, though Schleiden misunderstood cell division. Nevertheless, his botany textbook (1942-1943) inspired others to investigate cellular processes. Hugo von Mohl advanced microscopy and developed the protoplasm concept. Wilhelm Friedrich Benedict Hofmeister and Nathanael Pringsheim studied fertilization and alternation of generations in diverse groups of plants. Later, Walther Flem-ming and Eduard Adolf Strasburger used improved techniques to study chromosomes during mitosis and meiosis.

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