Gregor Mendel: Father of Genetics

Published on by ScienceUtsav

Gregor Mendel: Father of Genetics

Gregor Mendel, born on July 20th in 1822 as Johann Mendel, was an Austrian scientist and monk. He is called “Father of modern genetics” for his pioneering research in the field of heredity. His parents were farmers, and as a boy he was working on the farm. Later, he became a priest and adopted the new Christian name Gregor.

At the monastery, Mendel also took care of the garden, and he conducted extensive experiments with pea pod plants. He had been tracking some 28,000 individual plants over several years and focused his attention mainly on seven basic characteristics of the plants. In his experiments, Mendel crossed peas of different varieties like tall, short, various seed shapes and colors, etc. And kept detailed records of how these characteristics were seen or vanished in subsequent generations.

He conducted similar experiments on other plants and on mice. Mendel noticed recurring ratios in his analysis of how traits were inherited, ratios which could only be explained through dominance and segregation of genes. In one experiment, for example, Mendel crossed a plant that produces round seed with a plant which produced curving, Y-shaped seed, and in each and every one of the resulting plants seeds were round.

In the next generation, however, in which only these round hybrid seeds were planted, 5,474 plants matured bearing round seeds, while 1,850 matured bearing curved seeds; a ratio of almost exactly 3:1. From this Mendel concluded that the round seed is a dominant trait, inherited from either parent while the curved seed is a recessive trait, seen only when the dominant trait is absent in both parents.

Gregor Mendel: Father of Genetics

Mendel revealed the basic laws of heredity. According to his law many maternal and paternal traits do not "merge" in the subsequent offspring, but are instead passed intact; that some of these characteristics are dominant while other characteristics are recessive; and that the inheritance of such traits obeys simple statistical laws. His short monograph Versuche über Pflanzen-Hybrid (Treatises on Plant Hybrids) was published in 1865 and is now recognized as among the most important scientific papers ever written.

At the time; however, it was not widely read and its implications were understood only by Mendel. In the early 1900s three European botanists, working independently rediscovered what Mendel had explained some 35 years earlier. His research has come to be seen as the first rigorous, scientific explanation of heredity. In the foundation for modern genetics, his studies began to be referred to as Mendel’s Laws. A team of botanists independently duplicated Mendel's experiments and results in 1900, finding out after the fact that both the data and the general theory already had been published 35 years earlier by Mendel. Questions arose about the validity of the claims that the trio of botanists were not aware of Mendel's previous results, but they soon did credit Mendel with priority. His research and theories are considered fundamental to any understanding of the field, and he is considered the "Father of Modern Genetics." ScienceUtsav salutes this great scientist for his work and contribution.

Also know about the great Indian scientist C.N.R Rao here.

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