Imre Festetics

Hungarian scientist

Count Imre Festetics de Tolna (1764–1847) was a landowner and geneticist.

Imre Festetics
Festetics Imre-Oelenhainz.jpg
Imre (Emmerich) Festetics

1764 (1764)
Simaság, Austrian Empire (now Hungary)
Kőszeg, Austria-Hungary (now Hungary)
Known forCreating the science of genetics
Scientific career

Scientific worksEdit

Imre Festetics studued the breeding of sheep. He published some rules of heredity, and was the first to refer to these as "genetic laws of nature" (Die genetischen Gesatze der Natur). In so doing he used the term genetic for the first time, 80 years before William Bateson did. [1]

Genetic Laws of NatureEdit

  1. Healthy plants and robust animals are able to propagate and inherit their specific characteristics.
  2. Traits of grandparents that are different from those of the immediate progeny may reappear in later generations.
  3. Animals possessing desirable traits that have been inherited over many generations can sometimes have offspring with divergent traits. Such progeny are variants or freaks of nature, and are unsuitable for further propagation if the aim is the heredity of specific traits.
  4. A precondition for successful application of inbreeding is scrupulous selection of stock animals.

Festetics was hindered by the complex nature of his study traits, which were aspects of wool quality. We now know this is polygenic, that is, controlled by many genes. It does not not give clear-cut "Mendelian" ratios. When Gregor Mendel turned his attention to inheritance many of the principles had already been sketched out by Festetics.


  1. Poczai P, Bell N, Hyvönen J. 2014. Imre Festetics and the Sheep Breeders' Society of Moravia: Mendel's Forgotten “Research Network”. PLoS Biol 12(1): e1001772. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001772