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Mendel's Experiments

Gregor Mendel developed the model of heredity that now bears his name by experiments on various charactersitics of pea plants: height (tall vs. Short); seed color (yellow vs. Green); seat coat (smooth vs. wrinkled), etc. The following explanation uses the tall/short trait. The other traits Mendel studied can be substituted for tall and short.

Mendel started out with plants that "bred true". That is, when tall plants were self-pollinated (or cross-pollinated with others like them), plants in following generations were all tall; when the short plants were self-pollinated (or crosspollinated with others like them) the plants in following generations were all short. Mendel found that if true breeding Tall [T] plants are crossed (bred) with true breeding short [t] plants, all the next generation of plants, called F1, are all tall. Next, he showed that self-pollinated F1 plants (or cross- pollinated with other F1 plants) produce an F2 generation with 3/4 of the plants tall and 1/4 short.



A. 1/4 of the F2 generation are short plants, which produce only short plants in the F3 generation, if they are self- pollinated (or crossed with other short F2 plants;) these F2 plants breed true. B, 1/4 of the F2 generation (1/3 of the tall plants) are tall plants that produce only tall plants in the F3 generation, if they are self-pollinated; these tall F2 plants breed true. C. 1/2 of the F2 generation (2/3 of the tall plants) are tall plants that produce 1/4 short plants and 3/4 tall plants in the next [F3] generation, if they are self-pollinated. This is the same proportion of tall to short that F1 plants produce.

Q1, When Mendel put pollen from tall plants into the flowers of short plants, the seeds produced an F1 generation with all tall plants. But the short trait was not lost. How did Mendel demonstrate this?

So the T (tall) allele is called dominant and t (short) allele is called recessive. He showed that self-pollinating F1 plants produced 1/4 short and 3/4 tall plants 2. Mendel's model for the F1 generation is summarized in the table at the right.1. Cross breeding T T with t t plants produces T t plants in the first or F1 generation. In the F1 generation each plant had one T and one t allele of the gene controlling height. The following summarizes the model's first basic feature. The alleles (= forms) of the gene for height are the same in true breeding plants ( T T and t t parent plants ). The model states that each trait is controlled by a pair of hereditary packets we now call genes. C and E are both correct Mendel created a model that accounted for these and other data he got from his breeding experiments. He showed that self-pollinating plants produced plants of all sizes from tall to short 5. One packet comes from each parent. He knew that the tall gene covered up the short gene 6. The F1 plants receive a T allele from the tall parent and a t allele from the short parent. The diagram shows that this results in 1 out of 4 plants getting only t genes and 3 plants . The F1 plants are tall because the T allele is expressed and "cover up" the t allele. He showed that self-pollinating F1 plants produced all medium size plants 3. He knew that the short plants had recessive genes 4. Plants in the F2 generation had a 50:50 chance of getting a T or a t from each parent plant. The diagram at the right shows how Mendel's model explains the 3:1 ratio of tall to short plants in the F2 generation.

Transmission of each trait from one generation to the next is carried out by discrete units. 1. one from each parent. This deduction was confirmed by studying chromosomes. a trait that disappears in the F1 generation reappears in the F2 generation from self-pollinated F1 plants (at the ratio of 1:3) . one from each parent. proved logically) how traits are transmitted from generation to generation. These plants are exactly like the F1 generation. Of the remaining 3/4 tall plants. because T is dominant over t) The diagram also shows that the F2 generation actually has three kinds of plants. The remaining 2/4 get a T from one parent and at from the other. (Some people believe that Mendel already had this idea before he did the actual breeding experiments. they produce a pattern exactly like the F1 generation: 1 short plant for every 3 tall plants. even though many traits and many species do not show the specific patterns of inheritance that Mendel observed. which we now call genes. When self pollinated. From these and similar breeding experiments. 1/4 are t t plants. Q2. which are tall and produce only tall plants in following generations if self pollinated. which come in pairs. which are visible under the microscope during cell division. you can see the individual genes for the two traits under the microscope. 1/4 are T T. which are short and produce only short plants in following generations in self pollinated.) 2. 2. prove logically) from Mendel's data that heredity is transmitted by discrete units. We can deduce (figure out. which themselves are invisible under the microscope. Mendel told us that this was true from his experimental findings with crossed pea plants 3. These deductions have held up very well and form the basis of modern genetics. Mendel deduced (figured out.getting at least one T gene (which makes the plant tall. The gene for each trait comes in pairs. Chromosomes come in pairs and carry the genes. because 1.

Genes are often named by a letter (or letters) that stand for the dominant trait. The same pattern occurred for the other traits Mendel measured. T T or t t ) for the measured trait. because they could produce only plants with that trait. one allele. they bred true. may cover up or hide the expression of the other allele. which are now called alleles. if they were self-pollinated. The dominant allele is capitalized (eg. That is. In a heterozygote. The F1 generation from a cross of SS and ss plants had only smooth seeds. In the F2 generation 1/4 of plants in F2 had wrinkled (s) seeds. Also. These F2 plants show the same pattern of descendant as did the F1 generation of plants. T for tall) and the recessive is in lower case (t for short). If the alleles are the same. the parent plants were homozygous (eg. This shows they were homozygous for S genes. which produced plants that had only s seeds. The remaining 1/2 of the F2 plants produced F3 plants. the dominant. plants in the F2 generation don't breed true The gene for each trait comes in different forms. the individual is homozygous for that gene. This shows they were homozygous for (had only) s genes. . a trait that blends in the second generation will separate in the third generation 5. For example. an individual can have the same allele or different alleles in a gene-pair. In Mendel's experiment. Another 1/4 of the F2 plants had S seeds which produced only S seeds when self-pollinated. the recessive. parent plants produced only smooth (S) or wrinkled (s) seeds when selfpollinated. 1/4 of the F2 (2nd generation) plants in Mendel's experiments bred true as tall plants and 1/4 bred true as short plants. the individual is heterozygous. Because genes come in pairs.4. 1/4 of which had wrinkled seeds and 3/4 of which had smooth seeds when they were self-pollinated. If the alleles are different.