Gregor Mendel carried out his greatest discoveries in the monastery garden. Here, Mendel bred pea plants and discovered the basics of how genes work. His discoveries here are amazing and later dazzled the scientific world. He carried out a number of accurate experiments with pea plants and unveiled the mysterious nature of recessive genes. He revealed how certain plants could be crossed with large and small, pink and white, shriveled or smooth fruit and how genes could skip generations then reappear later.
Photo Credit: S. Metzing-Blau
After years of breeding and crossbreeding plants, he created a paper in which he presented a series of four conclusions which are the basis of what is now the Mendelian genetics.
His 4 principals of genetics run as follows along with their updated, modern terms:
- The traits of an organism are determined by packets of information called "factors". (The traits of an organism are determined by its genes.)
- Each organism has not one, but two factors that determine its traits. (Each organism has two alleles that make up the genotype for a given trait.)
- In sexual reproduction, each parent contributes only one of its factors to the offspring. (In sexual reproduction, each parent contributes only one of its alleles to the offspring.)
- In each definable trait, there is a dominant factor. If it exists in an organism, the trait that is determined by that dominant factor will be expressed. (In each genotype, there is a dominant allele. If it exists in an organism, the phenotype is determined by that allele.)
These are so familiar that we may be dulled to the fact that at the time, these were major discoveries in how genes work. But think about it. These discoveries were made in a garden by a monk who could not pass a teacher's exam.
In his lifetime, these laws never surfaced as Gregor Mendel had to put his plant studying aside to write books and articles which defended the right of the church from being taxed by the government which was a problem that faced the monasteries at this time.
He was on the brink of finally being taken seriously by the scientific world but was willing to set it all aside in order to defend the most important thing in his life: his Faith.
I hope that this article helped answer the question who was Gregor Mendel. To sum it all up, he is the father of modern genetics whose sacrifice and perseverance are proof that no man is a failure and an example that we are all called to greatness despite our mental or physical shortcomings.