Dynamic DNA Labs Looks at the Father of Modern Genetics
At Dynamic DNA Labs, our ancestry DNA testing offers a window into the past. Whether you are just starting to investigate your heritage, or you are an experienced genealogist, DNA findings help you unlock your history. Today, the process is simple. A quick cheek swab and Dynamic DNA Labs can help you begin your journey. But how did we get here? In today’s blog, Dynamic DNA Labs takes a brief look at Gregor Mendel, the father of modern genetics.
Born July 20, 1822, in the Austrian Empire, Gregor Mendel is considered the father of modern genetics. As a child, he worked on the family farm and developed a keen interest in gardening. After attending school in Opava, he went to the University of Olomouc where he studied multiple disciplines including Physics and Philosophy.
In 1843, he followed his calling into the priesthood and entered the Augustinian Abbey of St. Thomas in Brno. In 1851, he was sent to study in Vienna and then returned to the abbey as a teacher of physics. Mendel cared for the garden on the abbey grounds, and this hobby would eventually change the world.
Gregor Mendel is most known for his work with pea plants in the abbey gardens. He spent seven years planting, breeding and cultivating pea plants in an experimental part of the garden. Mendel kept meticulous records on his experiments which became the basis of modern genetics.
Mendel chose pea plants as his experimental plant because they take very little outside care and grow very quickly. They also have both male and female reproductive parts, allowing them to either cross-pollinate or self-pollinate. Most importantly, however, pea plants seem to show only one of two variations of many characteristics.
He studied a total of seven characteristics in all. His findings showed that there were some variations that were more likely to show up over others. He found, in fact, that when he bred purebred peas of differing variations, that in the next generation of pea plants one of the variations disappeared. When that generation was left to self-pollinate, the next generation showed a 3 to 1 ratio of variations. He called the one that was missing from the first generation “recessive” and the other “dominant” since it appeared to hide the other characteristics.
These observations led Mendel to the Law of Segregation. He proposed that each characteristic was controlled by two alleles (a variant form of a given gene), one from the “mother” and one from the “father.” The offspring would show the variation that is coded for by the dominant of the alleles. If there is no dominant allele present, then the offspring shows the characteristic of the recessive allele. These alleles were passed down randomly during fertilization.
Gregor Mendel died January 6, 1884. His work wasn’t truly appreciated until the 1900s. Mendel, unknowingly, provided the theory of evolution with a mechanism for the passing down of traits during natural selection.
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