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Gregor Mendel


Gregor Johann Mendel (July 22, 1822January 6, 1884) was an Austrian monk who is often called the "father of genetics" for his study of the inheritance of traits in pea plants.



Mendel was born in Heinzendorf, Austria (now Hynčice, district of Nový Jičín, Czech Republic). During his childhood Mendel worked as a gardener, and as a young man attended the Olmutz Philosophical Institute . In 1843 he entered an Augustinian monastery in Brno. He was later sent to the University of Vienna to study.


By both his professors at University and his colleagues at the monastery, Mendel was inspired to study variance in plants. He commenced his study in his monastery's experimental garden. Between 1856 and 1863 Mendel cultivated and tested some 28,000 pea plants. His experiments brought forth two generalizations which later became known as Mendel's Laws of Inheritance. His experimental results have later been the object of considerable dispute. The renowned statistician Sir Ronald Fisher analyzed the results of the F1 ratio and found them to be implausibly close to the exact ratio of 3 to 1. While only a few would accuse Mendel of scientific malpractice or call it a scientific fraud — reproduction of his experiments has demonstrated the accuracy of his hypothesis — it has continued to be a mystery for many. The fact that his reported results concentrate on the few traits in peas which are determined by a single gene has also suggested that he may have censored his results.

Mendel read his paper, Experiments on Plant Hybridization, at two meetings of the Natural History Society of Brunn in Bohemia in 1865. When Mendel's paper was published in 1866 in Proceedings of the Natural History Society of Brunn , it had little impact. It was not until the early 20th century that the importance of his ideas was realized. In 1900, his work was finally rediscovered by Hugo de Vries, Carl Correns and Erich von Tschermak and was contributory to the modern synthesis in evolutionary biology.

Mendel died January 6, 1884 in Brno from chronic nephritis, Austria-Hungary (now Czech Republic).

A crater on Mars was named in his honor.

See also

Further reading

  • Stern C and Sherwood ER (1966) The Origin of Genetics.
  • Robin Marantz Henig, Monk in the Garden: The Lost and Found Genius of Gregor Mendel, the Father of Genetics, Houghton Mifflin, May, 2000, hardcover, 292 pages, ISBN 0395977657; trade paperback, Houghton Mifflin, May, 2001, ISBN 0618127410
  • W. Bateson, M.A., F.R.S., Mendel's Principles of Heredity, a Defense, First Edition, London: Cambridge University Press, 1902. On-line Facsimile Edition: Electronic Scholarly Publishing, Prepared by Robert Robbins
  • Reginald Punnett , Mendelism, Cambridge, 1905
  • Robert Lock, Recent Progress in the Study of Variation, Heredity and Evolution, London, 1906
  • James Walsh, Catholic Churchmen in Science, Philadelphia: Dolphin Press, 1906

External links

  • Mendel's Paper in English
  • Mendel Museum of Genetics
  • Catholic Encyclopedia entry, "Mendel, Mendalism"

Last updated: 02-06-2005 16:15:04
Last updated: 03-18-2005 11:16:12