Erwin Baur (16 April 1875, in Ichenheim, Grand Duchy of Baden – 2 December 1933) was a German geneticist and botanist. Baur worked primarily on plant genetics. He was director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Breeding Research (since 1938 Erwin Baur-Institute). Baur is considered to be the father of plant virology. He discovered the inheritance of plastids.
In 1908 Baur demonstrated a lethal gene in the Antirrhinum plant. In 1909 working on the chloroplast genes in Pelargonium (geraniums) he showed that they violated four of Mendel's five laws. Baur stated that
- plastids are carriers of hereditary factors which are able to mutate.
- in variegated plants, random sorting out of plastids is taking place.
- the genetic results indicate a biparental inheritance of plastids by egg cells and sperm cells in pelargonium.
Since the 1930s and the work of Otto Renner, plastid inheritance became a widely accepted genetic theory.
In 1921 and 1932, together with Fritz Lenz and Eugen Fischer, Baur coauthored two volumes that became the book Menschliche Erblichkeitslehre (Human Heredity), which was a major influence on the racial theories of Adolf Hitler. The work served a chief inspiration for biological support in Hitler's Mein Kampf.
- Hagemann, R. 2000. Erwin Baur or Carl Correns: who really created the theory of plastid inheritance? Archived 2005-03-16 at the Wayback Machine. Journal of Heredity 91:435-440.
- "Human biodiversity: genes, race, and history", Jonathan M. Marks. Transaction Publishers, 1995. p. 88. ISBN 0-202-02033-9, ISBN 978-0-202-02033-4.
- Short Biography, bibliography, and links on digitized sources in the Virtual Laboratory of the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science