Gregor Mendel & Genetics: Experiments, Laws & Discovery

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Kelly Robson

Kelly has taught High School Science and Applied Communications. She holds an Education Specialist Degree in Ed. Leadership.

Gregor Mendel is currently known as the father of modern genetics. This lesson goes through a brief history of his life, workings as a scientist, and his findings.

We also recommend watching Application of Mendel's First Law and Application of Mendel's Second Law

Gregor Mendel

Mendel made many observations and turned them into mathematical patterns to help explain the different occurrences.
Gregor Mendel

Gregor Mendel is known as the 'Father of Modern Genetics.' He is a pretty big name in the science world. However, he did not receive any of this credit while he was alive. We will come back to this later.

Mendel was born in Austria in 1822. His parents were farmers. When he was young and on the farm Mendel became very interested in plants, trees, and fruit. He was very good at school and soon found himself away from the farm and into schools and religion. Over his lifetime Mendel became a teacher, priest, and scientist.

From 1856-1863 Mendel conducted his now-famous experiments while he was an Augustinian monk in the Czech Republic. Here he was able to tend to the garden at the monastery. His work was published in 1866. However, it was not until the 1900s when three scientists - Erich Tschermak, Hugo de Vries, and Carl Correns - rediscovered Mendel's work and confirmed his findings. It was then that Mendel's experiments changed the world of genetics forever.

The Experiments

Gregor Mendel spent those eight years studying tens of thousands of plants. He mainly studied pea plants because they had distinguished characteristics and they were quick to grow. Mendel would create hybrids from the plants. Hybrids are the blending of two things to make one. An example of a new technology hybrid is an engine that runs on both electricity and gas (two things to make one engine).

Mendel's hybrid was two pea plants. He would act as the pollinator, carefully controlling which two plants would create a new generation. While working with the tens of thousands of plants Mendel would observe the seven different traits from these plants:

  • 1. Flower color (purple or white)
  • 2. Flower position (axial or terminal)
  • 3. Stem length (short or tall)
  • 4. Seed Shapes (round or wrinkled)
  • 5. Seed color (yellow or green)
  • 6. Pod shape (inflated or constricted)
  • 7. Pod color (yellow or green)

Mendel looked at seven different factors while conducting his experiments with pea plants.
7 Characteristics

Mendel would cross-pollinate the different types of pea plants. Sometimes the plants would have the same characteristics and sometimes they would have different characteristics. He would then observe the next generation of plants that were created. He would then pollinate these plants and keep on going.

Findings

Before and during Mendel's experiments, heredity, the transmission of traits from parents to their offspring, was believed to just be a watered down blend or combination of traits from the parents to their offspring. However, Mendel's observations from these experiments showed that this was not always the case.

Other scientists conducted similar experiments like Gregor Mendel's pea plant experiments. However, the experiments did not last as long nor were they as extensive as Mendel's. They were not able to observe how sometimes hidden characteristics would appear after many generations of its absence.

While conducting his experiments Mendel began to see these characteristics make a comeback. They would appear in the offspring of parents who did not show any signs of these traits. This goes against the blending theory.

Mendel

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