150 years of the genius of genetics

Przulj, Novo; Perovic, Dragan GND; Yan, Yueming; Mirosavijevic, Milan; Govedarica, Branka; Krmpot, Tanja; Petronic, Sladana

In 2015 world is commemorating 150 years since Gregor Mendel presented his lectures Experiments in Plant Hybridization (Versuche über Plflanzen-hybriden), on the 8th of February and March 1865. He presented, for the first time, the results of his research into breeding peas and other plants that he had been performing for a number of years in the gardens of the Augustinian monastery in Old Brno at a meeting of the Natural Science Society in Brno (Verhandlungen des naturforschenden Vereines in Brünn). Using the garden as a genetics laboratory, Gregor Mendel could manipulate and select for certain traits to formulate and test out his hypotheses about mechanisms of inheritance and distribution of traits in offspring. In order to trace the transmission of traits, he chose seven pea traits that were expressed in a distinctive manner, such as plant height (short or tall), seed color (green or yellow), etc. The F1 of crossing varieties that differed in one trait- for instance tall x short, displayed the trait of one variety but not that of the other. He observed that the plant height was a trait that was passed on to progeny independently from other traits. In Mendel’s terms, one character was dominant and the other recessive. The recessive character reappeared in F2, and the proportion of offspring bearing the dominant to offspring bearing the recessive was very close to a 3 to 1 ratio. After seven years of research and analyses of thousands pea plants, Mendels observational talent and mathematics knowledge were base for the defining of three principles, often known as Mendel's principles of heredity- Law of dominance, Law of segregation and Law of independent assortment, which are the essential for the Mendelian genetics and heredity. Remarkably, Mendel described elements of DNA-based inheritance in the absence of any knowledge of the molecular biology behind it. His important contributions to the field of genetics continue to influence modern scientists and every geneticist or genetics student has heard his name. Although initially well-received, Mendel’s work was not given proper appreciation during his lifetime, even after it was published in 1866. In fact, over the next 35 years, this paper was only cited three times. The genetics became more important at the beginning of the 20th century when three different research groups (Dutch botanist and geneticist Hugo de Vries, German botanist and geneticist Carl Erich Correns, and Austrian botanist Erich von Tschermak with their co-workers) independently re-discovered Mendel’s Laws. Biologist William Bateson became the strong supporter of Mendel’s theory and later zoologist and geneticist Thomas Hunt Morgan located the genes on the chromosomes. As the architect of genetic experimental and statistical analysis, Mendel remains the acknowledged father of genetics.

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Przulj, Novo / Perovic, Dragan / Yan, Yueming / et al: 150 years of the genius of genetics. 2015.

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