Gregor Mendel

Gregor Mendel is considered the father of the discipline of Genetics. It is ironic that he bears this exposition, because Gregor Mendel never used the term gene or genetics in his life. It was not until 1905, twenty-one year after Mendel’s death, that William Bateson baptized Mendel’s work as genetics. Like many brilliant minds before him, Mendel was ahead of his era; his findings were ignored for nearly thirty years. Gregor was of peasant upbringings; his father was a farmer. He was born on July 22,1822, in Heinzendorf (now Hyncice, Czech Republic) and raised in German-speaking Silesia.

At the young age of twenty-one, he joined an Austrian order in the Monastery of Brunn, Monrovia. There he became a monk and a high school substitute teacher. Later He attended the University of Vienna, where he studied mathematics and science. It was at the Monastery during his leisure time that he became an amateur scientist. During 1856 to 1861, Mendel raised over 28,000 varieties of edible pea plants (Pisum sativum), which he was testing for the transmission of seven selected traits. He self-fertilized their offspring to discover which of the parent trait they would exhibit.

After years of study and research Mendel, published his findings in 1866, the article was called “Experiments with Plant Hybrids” which was published in the journal of the Brno Natural History Society. His publishing explained two different laws. The first Law of Segregation stated that there were two hereditary units (later referred to as genes) governing each of the plant’s characteristics, and one of the elements was dominant and if it is present it determines the trait the plant will exhibit. For example, two pea plants could each have a tallness gene and a shortness gene.

If they both contribute the shortness gene to a seed, the progeny, or offspring will be short. However, if one or both contributed a tallness gene, the progeny will be tall, thus demonstrating that the tallness gene is dominant. Mendel went on to interbreed the first generation of tall peas and found that the second generation turned out in a ratio of three tall to each short offspring. He then perceived that the genes paired into AA, Aa, and aa, (“A” representing the dominant gene and “a” representing the recessive) Continuing his work he also concluded that AA pea plants pollinated ith other AA pea plants produced all tall offsprings, and aa plants produced pure short plants, and Aa or hybrid tall plants produced the same 3:1 ration offspring.

This proved to Mendel that traits did not mix, as it was believed in the past. From these findings he the formulated his second law. The Law of Independent Assortment stated that the expression of a gene for any single characteristic is usually not influenced by the appearance of another characteristic. The following chart explains how the 3:1 ratio in conceived:

By the 1870’s Mendel’s work also extended into animals, he did manage to breed bees that were excellent honey producer. They only problem was that they were so vicious they had to be destroyed. Once he began working with animals his Monastery began to limit his studies, some say that his study of elements of heredity could, leave the door open for the Darwinian theory of evolution, which contradicted the principles of the Monastery and the Catholic religion.


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