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Gregor Mendel: Biography, Facts & Timeline

Instructor: Ebony Potts

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 you ever wondered how you ended up with eyes like your mother and a nose like your father? Gregor Mendel wondered about inherited traits too over a century ago. In this lesson, you will learn about Gregor Mendel and the important contributions he made to the field of genetics.

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
Mendel

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.

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