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Mrs. Joumana
Science 8
September 2013

Gregor Mendel The Father of Genetics

Gregor Mendel (known as Johann Mendel prior to his entry to the Albrunn Monastery in 1843)
was born on July 22, 1822 in Heinzendrof, Austria (present-day Hyncice, Czech Republic) and
died on January 6, 1884 in Brunn, Austria-Hungary (present-day Brno, Czech Republic). He was
an Austrian botanist, high school teacher, and an Augustinian priest. He is best known as the
father of Modern Genetics. Unfortunately his creative and brilliant work was overshadowed by
the fact that it was ignored by other scientists for 34 years. Fortunately his work was later
rediscovered 16 years subsequent to his death in 1900 independently by three different scientists,
Hugo de Vries, Carl Erich Correns, and Erich Tschemark.
Early Life
Born to a peasant and poverty-stricken family Mendel was raised in a rural area. A local priest
was the first to recognize his academic abilities. The priest persuaded his parents to send him
away to school at the age of 11. In 1840 Mendel entered a two-year program in philosophy at the
University of Olmutz where he transcended and excelled in the fields of physics and
mathematics. In 1850 Mendel failed a teacher exam. As a result he was sent to the University of
Vienna for two years to profit from a new scientific program. As he did at Olmutz, Mendel
dedicated most of his time at the university to study physics and mathematics. Mendel also
studied the anatomy and physiology (study of organisms, their functions and their parts) of
plants. Mendel was inspired to study variance in plants by both his professors at the university
and his colleagues at the monastery.
Experimental Period (Hybridization)
In 1854 Mendel was authorized to plan a major experimental program in hybridization (the
process of cross-breeding different varieties of organisms to create a hybrid offspring) at the
monastery. The aim of the program was to trace the transmission of heredity characteristics in
hybrid offspring.

Mendel decided to experiment with pea plants because of the numerous distinct varieties in pea
plants and the ease of control of pollination. Mendels first experiment involved cross-pollinating
two tall pea plants with the genotype (genetic makeup of an organism responsible for a particular
trait) TT. Mendel took note that in the generation of the offspring there were only tall plants.
After this experiment he concluded that there was a factor for tallness being passed down. He
then cross-pollinated two short plants with the genotype tt. He noticed that in this generation of
offspring there were only genotype tt plants produced (short plants). His conclusion after these
two experiments was that there was some sort of factor for height that can be passed down
through generations of pea plants. He then cross-pollinated two plants, one with the genotype
TT and the other with the genotype tt. The result was a tall plant with the genotype Tt. He
then bred two Tt (hybrid) plants. The result was that three-fourths of the offspring generation
was of tall plants and one-fourth was of short plants. In Mendels terms, one trait was dominant
over the other (a recessive trait). The recessive trait was expressed when it was combined with
another recessive trait of the same kind. The proportion of offspring carrying the dominant trait
to offspring carrying the recessive trait was written out as a 3 to 1 ratio.

Mendel also observed other pea plant traits. This included flower color (purple or white), seed
shape (round or wrinkled), stem length (long or short), and pod color (yellow or green).
Main Discoveries (Theoretical Analysis of Results)
Mendels Laws of Heredity
Law of Segregation
Through his results Mendel generalized two laws of heredity. They are called Mendels Laws of
Heredity. The first law, the Law of Segregation, has fundamentally four parts to it. The first part
states that there are alternative versions of genes (now called alleles) which account or are
responsible for variations in inherited characteristics. The second part states that for each
characteristic an organism inherits two genes (alleles), one from each parent. The third part
affirms that if two alleles differ for one character the dominant allele will be expressed in the
organisms phenotype (physical expression of genotype) and the other allele (recessive) will be
masked. The fourth part states that the two alleles for each character segregate during meiosis.
Law of Independent Assortment
The Law of Independent Assortment states that separate alleles for separate traits are passed
independently of one another from parents to offspring therefore if the offspring carrys one trait
(for example skin color) from the mother it does not mean that all the other traits of the offspring
are inherited from the mother.
Mendels Contribution to Science
Mendels discoveries led to the creation of a new sub-branch of biology (Genetics). His
discoveries helped us understand why we are all not alike and why we dont look exactly like our
parents. His discoveries also disproved the Pangenesis theory of how heredity worked. His
discoveries also allowed scientists to predict the expression of traits through math probabilities.


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