Ebony has taught middle and high school physical science, life science & biology. She's also been an assistant principal and has a doctorate in educational administration.
Have your ever sat at the table and looked at the members of your family? What did you notice? If you pay attention, you will notice that most people who are related have similar traits. They may all be short or tall, stocky or have a slim build. Members of the same family may also have similar nose shapes, hair color, and eye color. People that are a part of the same family often have many shared traits and sometimes even behave in a similar manner. These are all good observations about families, but the question is, why? Why do families or related organisms, have so many shared characteristics. How did Grandpa Joe's nose end up on your little brother? How did the seeds from an apple tree grow one just like it? Over a century ago a man by the name of Gregor Mendel, had similar questions. Let's read more about Gregor, and learn how his curiosity contributed to the field that we know of today as genetics.
Gregor Mendel - The Early Years
Gregor Mendel was born on July 22, 1822. Mendel was born in what was once called Heinzendorf (now called Hyncice) in northern Moravia (in what is now the Czech Republic). The area used to be part of the Austrian Empire. Mendel was named Johann when born, but changed his name to Gregor in 1843 when he entered the Augustinian order of the Roman Catholic Church.
Mendel was a very intelligent and curious youngster who studied very hard. He studied physics, ethics, philosophy, mathematics, and religion. Upon the recommendation of one of his teachers, Mendel became a monk and entered the Augustinian monastery in 1843. The monastery proved to be a very hospitable place for Mendel to study, learn, and carry out his experiments.
Mendel's Pea Plants
From the the years of 1854 to 1863, Mendel performed many experiments on pea plants. These experiments laid the groundwork for modern genetics, the study of how characteristics are passed from one generation to the next. In his experiments, Mendel used a variety of pea plants. The plants that he used bred true , meaning that when two of the same variety of plant were crossed, they always produced offspring of the same type. For example, two true bred, tall pea plants would produce two tall offspring.
Mendel then crossed the true bred plants with other pea plants that had different traits such as seed shape, seed color or pod color. In the first generation of this experiment, Mendel noticed that all the offspring had the trait from only one of the parents. The cross between peas with tall plants and short plants produced all tall plants in the first generation. Mendel called the trait that showed up in the first generation the dominant trait.
Mendel then crossed the first generation offspring with one another. He discovered that both original characteristics came back in the second generation, In other words, now some offspring were tall and some were short. This happened in a 3:1 ratio, (3 for the dominant trait, 1 for the recessive trait). The recessive trait is the trait that is 'hidden' in the first generation and then reappears in the second. Mendel discovered that each plant had two characters of heredity. Each parent could only pass one of its characters on to its offspring.
In 1865, Mendel gave two lectures on his findings to the Natural Science Society. His results were published in their journal in 1866. Unfortunately, his work was not understood by others during his lifetime. Mendel lived out the rest of his days in the monastery doing experiments until his eyesight started to fail him. He died in 1884 at the age of 61. People did not start to realize the importance of his work until around 1900. Today he is known as the 'father of genetics'.
Gregor Mendel was born on July 22, 1822 in what was once a part of Austria. Mendel was a very intelligent youngster who studied many subjects. In 1843 he entered a Monastery as a Monk. From 1854 to 1863, Mendel experimented on pea plants, these experiments laid the groundwork for modern genetics, the study of how characteristics are passed from one generation to the next. Mendel discovered that each plant had two characters of heredity and that each parent could only pass one of its characters on to its offspring.Today Mendel is known as the father of Genetics.
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