Gregor Mendel: Biography of the Father of Modern Genetics

Gregor Mendel (1843-1822) was a botanist with a background in philosophy, physics and mathematics, credited with discovering the mathematical foundations of the genetic sciences, now called “Mendelism”.

Then we will see the biography of Gregor Mendel as well as his major contributions to modern genetics.

    Biography of Gregor Mendel, father of genetics

    Gregor Johann Mendel was born on July 20, 1822 in the rural community of Heinzendorf bei Odrau, in the former Austrian Empire, now the Czech Republic. He was the son of peasants with few financial resources, so Mendel spent his childhood working as a herder, a problem that later helped him complete his higher education.

    He studied at the philosophical institute of Olomouc, where he showed great skills in physics and mathematics. Despite his family’s desire to continue on the family farm, Gregor Mendel began his theological training from 1843. This was influenced because his academic skills were quickly recognized by the local chaplain. In 1847 he was ordained a priest and in 1851 he was sent to the University of Vienna to continue his studies.

    There he trained under the guidance of Austrian physicist Christian Doppler and mathematician Andreas von Ettingshausen. He then studied the anatomy and physiology of plants, and specialized in the use of microscopes under the tutelage of botanist Franz Unger, who was an expert in cell theory and supported the development of a pre-Darwinian theory of evolution, which greatly influenced Mendel’s thesis.

    Although having lived at the same time as Darwin and having read some of his texts, there is no evidence that there was a direct exchange between Mendel and Darwin and his teachers.

    Mendel was seen very soon motivated by nature research, Which led him to the study of different plant species, but also to the field of meteorology and different theories of evolution. Among other things, he discovered that different varieties of peas have particular intrinsic properties that when mixed together ultimately produce new plant species as independent units.

    His studies laid the foundation for the discovery of the hereditary activity of genes, chromosomes and cell division, Which were later known as Mendel’s Laws. Gregor Mendel died on January 6, 1884 in Austria-Hungary from kidney disease. He was unaware that he had discovered a fundamental part of the development of classical genetics, as his knowledge was “rediscovered” years later by Dutch scientists.

    The laws of Mendel’s inheritance

    Mendel’s laws of inheritance, also known as Mendelian inheritance, were derived from his research, conducted between 1856 and 1863. This botanist had cultivated around 28,000 pea plantsThis led him to make two generalizations about how genetic information is transmitted based on genotypic expression.

    His text “Experiments on Plant Hybridization” was rediscovered by Hugo de Vries, Carl Correns and Erich von Tschermak, who had experimented and reached the same conclusions as Mendel. In 1900, another scientist, named Hugo Vires, pushed for the recognition of Mendel’s laws, while inventing the words “genetics”, “gene” and “allele”. In summary, we will see below what each of these laws consists of.

      1. Mendel’s first law

      It is also known as the law of segregation of independent characters, the law of equitable segregation or the law of disjunction of alleles. Describes the random migration of chromosomes during the meiosis phase called anaphase I.

      What this law proposed was that during the formation of gametes (the reproductive cells of living beings), each of the forms that the same gene has is separated from its pair, To shape the final range. Thus, each gamete has an allele for each gene and a descending variation is ensured.

        2. Mendel’s second law

        This law is also called the law of independent transmission of characters. Mendel discovered random alignment of chromosome pairs during the meiosis phase called metaphase I.

        The second law says that different traits of genes that are on different chromosomes are inherited independently of each other, so that the pattern of inheritance does not affect that of others.

        The conclusion is that genetic dominance is the result of the expression of all the genes and hereditary factors that exist in the body (the genotype), and not so much of their transmission. There is controversy as to whether the latter constitutes a third law, which precedes the others, and is known as the “law of uniformity of the first-generation hybrids”.

        Bibliographical references:

        • Garrigues, F. (2017). Mendel’s laws: 3 commandments of genetics. Block of medical genetics. Accessed October 16, 2018. Available at https://revistageneticamedica.com/blog/leyes-de-mendel/.
        • Gregor Mendel (2013). New World Encyclopedia. Accessed October 16, 2018. Available at http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Gregor_Mendel.
        • Gregor Mendel (2018). Famous scientists. The art of genius. Accessed October 16, 2018.Available at https://www.famousscientists.org/gregor-mendel/.
        • Olby, R. (2018). Gregor Mendel. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Accessed October 16, 2018.Available at https://www.britannica.com/biography/Gregor-Mendel.

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