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Biography of Johann Gregor Mendel - Father of Genetics

Nithya Venkat enjoys writing about scientists who have made their mark in science with their outstanding work.

Gregor Johann Mendel

Gregor Johann Mendel

Johann Gregor Mendel, well known as the Father of Genetics, was born on July 22, 1822, in the Silesian village of Heinzendorf, now known as Hyncice in the Czech Republic. His father's name was Anton Mendel, and his mother's name was Rosine Mendel.

Early life of Gregor Mendel

Gregor Mendel grew up on a rural farm in Heinzendorf, Silesia. He went to a rural school until the age of eleven. On seeing Gregor Mendel’s avid interest in studies, the school headmaster recommended he be sent to a secondary school in Troppau. He was an outstanding student and graduated from secondary school with high honors.

His family was impoverished and could barely make ends meet. During this time, Mendel frequently worked on his family’s farm. Even before attending school, Gregor Mendel was well versed in the fields of horticulture and agriculture.

After his graduation, Gregor Mendel joined the Philosophical Institute at the University of Olmutz and enrolled in a two-year program. In the institute, he excelled in the subjects of Physics and Maths. Gregor Mendel also tutored students in his free time to pay his fees.

During this time, Mendel suffered from depression, due to which he stopped his studies for a short period. Despite all the difficulties that he faced, Gregor Mendel graduated from the Philosophical University in 1843.

Gregor Mendel at the Augustinian Monastery

In the same year, Gregor Mendel joined the Augustinian monastery in Brno, the capital of Moravia.

In the monastery abbot, Cyril Napp helped and encouraged Gregor Mendel to research and conduct experiments on hybridization in plants. Hybridization in plants was of great concern to the monastery because of their possession of vast agricultural lands in Moravia.

The abbot also helped Gregor Mendel to study Physics, Botany and Zoology for two years at the University of Vienna.

Gregor Mendel at the University of Vienna

At the University of Vienna, Mendel was coached by two great scientists. Christian Doppler taught Mendel Mathematics and Physics, and Franz Unger taught Mendel Botany. Mendel returned to the Augustinian monastery after completing his studies at the University of Vienna in 1853.

After his return, Mendel started teaching at a secondary school for more than a decade. During this time, Mendel began his experiments with pea plants that led to the discovery of Mendel's Laws of Inheritance in Genetics.

Research Work of Gregor Mendel

In 1854, Mendel started his experiments with pea plants (Botanical Name – Pisum sativum). Mendel chose pea plants for his experiments because they had many varieties; it was very easy to produce the offspring of pea plants quickly and could be grown in a small area.

Mendel observed the following traits (characters) in pea plants –

Traits that Mendel studied in Pea Plants

Form of ripe seed

Smooth or Wrinkled

Color of seed albumen

Yellow or Green

Color of flower

Purple or White

Form of ripe pod

Inflated or Constricted

Color of unripe pods

Green or Yellow

Position of Flowers

Axial or Terminal

Length of Stem

Tall or Dwarf

Mendel's Laws of Inheritance

Mendel selectively cross-pollinated pure-bred pea plants with specific traits (characters) and observed the resultant offspring over many generations. These observations formed the basis of Mendel’s Laws of Genetic Inheritance.

Based on the results of his experiments with pea plants, Mendel developed the three laws of inheritance -

  1. The Law of Dominance
  2. The Law of Segregation
  3. The Law of Independent Assortment

In 1865, Mendel gave two lectures about his findings to the Natural Science Society in Brno. They published the results of his studies in their journal “Experiments on Plant Hybrids” in 1866.

Little was known about the importance of his research and findings during that time. Even Mendel himself did not think that his laws had made a significant impact in the field of genetic inheritance. He believed that his laws applied only to a particular variety of pea plants with specific traits.

Gregor Mendel’s Late Life

Gregor Mendel was appointed as the abbot of the monastery in 1868. In the year 1874, the then ruling government formed a new law relating to the taxes that had to be paid by the cloisters to the religious fund. Mendel protested against the law passed by the government and refused to pay extra taxes.

Later, the government appointed him to the Board of Directors of the Moravian Mortgage Bank. In 1876, Mendel became the vice-governor of the bank and then the governor in 1881.

Mendel's health deteriorated due to the stress that he had to face while fighting against the unfair tax law passed by the Government. His health slowly deteriorated, and he died on Jan 6th, 1884, in Brno without receiving any recognition for his groundbreaking work in the field of genetics.

Recognition of Mendel's Research Work

Sixteen years later, Mendel’s work was rediscovered by three Botanists Hugo de Vries, Carl Correns, and Erich Tschemak. They appreciated and publicly recognized Mendel’s research work and also stated that they had achieved similar results in the experiments that they had conducted on plants.

Mendel’s Laws of Inheritance is now the foundation of the modern study of genetics.

References

History of Genetics - Gregor Johann Mendel

nature.com

boigraphy.com

ww2.edc.org


© 2014 Nithya Venkat

Comments

Frances Morton on October 08, 2018:

I teach my college Psychology 100 classes about Mendel. As the knowledge of our genome expands we can appreciate the part that genetics plays in this field.

Thanks for your article!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on January 14, 2016:

Nell Rose thank you for your visit and comment.

Nell Rose from England on January 13, 2016:

Great info, I love science all branches of science and this was something I didn't know, nell

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on September 23, 2014:

Paula Atwell thank you for stopping by, much appreciated.

Paula Atwell from Cleveland, OH on September 23, 2014:

Very interesting information about this valuable contributor to science. :)

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on August 12, 2014:

AudreyHowitt thank you, much appreciated.

rebeccamealey thank you for your visit, Mendel' work is really fascinating!

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on August 11, 2014:

Mendel and his work in genetics has always been fascinating to me, ever since high school biology. Thanks for an interesting read. Great research!

Audrey Howitt from California on August 11, 2014:

Came back to read this great hub and send it around again! Hope all is great with you!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on July 23, 2014:

Homeplace Series yes Mendel and his work is truly fascinating .

William Leverne Smith from Hollister, MO on July 19, 2014:

Fascinating person, and works. Thanks for sharing these insights! Useful! ;-)

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 21, 2014:

rajan jolly thank you for reading and for your vote, much appreciated.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on April 20, 2014:

As a major in Botany, I loved reading about Gregor Mendel and his contribution to genetics via his fundamental laws of inheritance.

Good information. Voted up.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on April 04, 2014:

stuff4kids yes, you are so right, thank you for stopping by.

Amanda Littlejohn on April 04, 2014:

Thanks for sharing information about this, well, genius. Given that he could only infer his ideas about genetics and inheritance so long before the discovery of DNA and genes, he showed an incredible command of deductive and inductive reasoning.

Great stuff! :)

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on February 26, 2014:

AudreyHowitt thank you.

Audrey Howitt from California on February 25, 2014:

So interesting, especially since it let us see into his inner life a bit--loved that!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on February 23, 2014:

mylindaelliott yes I guess it is because they do not get the encouragement and support that they so deserve. Thank you for stopping by.

mylindaelliott from Louisiana on February 22, 2014:

So many scientists seem to have had some type of mental complications like depression or more severe ones. I wonder about that.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on February 10, 2014:

DreamerMeg thank you for your visit and yes Genetics is very interesting.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on February 10, 2014:

I loved genetics, so interesting!

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on February 10, 2014:

Nell Rose thank you for your visit, vote up and share. Genetics is a fascinating field.

rebeccamealey thank you, genetics is really interesting.

Rebecca Mealey from Northeastern Georgia, USA on February 09, 2014:

Very interesting. Thank you! I remember studying about this in high school biology and doing the charts for crossing plant traits.

Nell Rose from England on February 09, 2014:

I love learning about scientists that I hadn't really heard about before, so this was fascinating! voted up and shared! nell

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on February 07, 2014:

always exploring thank you for your visit. Mendel's contribution is phenomenal. Thanks to him we have cures for so many diseases.

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on February 05, 2014:

I remember studying Mendel's genetics in nurses training. You've added much by telling his story. Very interesting..

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on February 05, 2014:

Alicia C thank you and yes he has made very important and valuable contributions.

ChitrangadaSharan thank you am glad you got to know more about the great man.

TurtleDog thank you and yes quite a shame and really sad that he was not recognized.

Jodah thank you for reading and am glad you enjoyed.

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on February 04, 2014:

I enjoyed this hub. I had heard of Gregor Mendel, but never knew anything about his life. Very interesting. Thanks for sharing this.

TurtleDog on February 04, 2014:

Very interesting! Voted up. Shame he was never truly recognized while he was still alive. Nice job

Chitrangada Sharan from New Delhi, India on February 04, 2014:

Great hub!

You took me back to my school days, when We were taught about Genetics and George Mendel. Never knew so many details about him. Thanks for educating through your wonderful hub!

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on February 03, 2014:

I enjoyed learning more about Mendel's life. He made some very important contributions to biology. Thanks for the information, Vellur.

Nithya Venkat (author) from Dubai on February 03, 2014:

billybuc yes he was a brilliant man, thank you for your visit.

DDE thank you for stopping by.

pstraubie48 thank you. I can imagine the anger! I guess we all did feel the anger at some point or other when we were in students.

jhamann thank you for your visit.

teaches12345 it is really sad that his work was not recognized when he was alive. Thank you for your visit.

Ruchira, oh yes biology class! I do remember them. Yes, thanks to him that we are able to cure at least some of the diseases. Thank you for stopping by.

Faith Reaper thank you and yes he was really brilliant. Thank you for reading, the vote and share.

Jackie Lynnley thank you for stopping by. I guess it is a coincidence!

Jackie Lynnley from the beautiful south on February 03, 2014:

Love this background you have given and kind of weird we both wrote of Moravia today, huh? And the Czech Republic. What are the chances?

Faith Reaper from southern USA on February 03, 2014:

Thank you for sharing here about such a brilliant man. Learned a lot that I did not know.

Up and more and sharing.

Blessings,

Faith Reaper

Ruchira from United States on February 03, 2014:

you took me back to my biology class when we studied mendel and his research...thanks to him we are able to control diseases (well, somewhat)

great work, nithya!

Dianna Mendez on February 03, 2014:

One hears so much about Mendel's studies but rarely do we get to read his background. It seems he did not receive as much credit as he deserved. Thank you for the education.

Jamie Lee Hamann from Reno NV on February 03, 2014:

What a great man and a great scientist, thank you for this wonderful hub. Jamie

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on February 03, 2014:

Very informative. And I am certain I disliked him immensely when I was in college and had to do all of those problems to figure out traits!!!

Well done....

Angels are on the way to you today ps

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on February 03, 2014:

Biography of Johann Gregor Mendel - The Father of Genetics is a useful hub and well approached.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on February 03, 2014:

Very interesting....pretty brilliant man I would say. Thanks for the education.