Gregor Mendel, who is known as the “father of modern genetics”, was inspired by both his professors at university and his colleagues at the monastery to study variation in plants, and he conducted his study in the monastery’s two hectare experimental garden, which was originally planted by the abbot Napp in 1830.
Between 1856 and 1863 Mendel cultivated and tested some 29,000 pea plants (i.e., Pisum sativum). This study showed that one in four pea plants had purebred recessive alleles, two out of four were hybrid and one out of four were purebred dominant. His experiments brought forth two generalizations, the Law of Segregation and the Law of Independent Assortment, which later became known as Mendel’s Laws of Inheritance.
Mendel was born into an ethnic German family in Heinzendorf bei Odrau, Austrian Silesia, Austrian Empire (now Hynčice, Czech Republic), and was baptized two days later. He was the son of Anton and Rosine Mendel, and had one older sister and one younger.
They lived and worked on a farm which had been owned by the Mendel family for at least 130 years. During his childhood, Mendel worked as a gardener, studied beekeeping, and as a young man attended the Philosophical Institute in Olomouc in 1840–1843. Upon recommendation of his physics teacher Friedrich Franz, he entered the Augustinian Abbey of St Thomas in Brno in 1843.
Born Johann Mendel, he took the name Gregor upon entering monastic life. In 1851 he was sent to the University of Vienna to study under the sponsorship of Abbot C. F. Napp. At Vienna, his professor of physics was Christian Doppler. Mendel returned to his abbey in 1853 as a teacher, principally of physics, and by 1867, he had replaced Napp as abbot of the monastery.
Besides his work on plant breeding while at St Thomas’s Abbey, Mendel also bred bees in a bee house that was built for him, using bee hives that he designed. He also studied astronomy and meteorology, founding the ‘Austrian Meteorological Society’ in 1865. The majority of his published works were related to meteorology. (taken from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gregor_Mendel)
During the middle of Mendel’s life, Mendel did groundbreaking work into the theories of heredity. Using simple pea pod plants, Mendel studied seven basic characteristics of the pea pod plants. By tracing these characteristics, Mendel discovered three basic laws which governed the passage of a trait from one member of a species to another member of the same species.
The first law states that the sex cells of a plant may contain two different traits, but not both of those traits. The second law stated that characteristics are inherited independently from another (the basis for recessive and dominant gene composition). The third theory states that each inherited characteristic is determined by two hereditary factors (known more recently as genes), one from each parents, which decides whether a gene is dominant or recessive.
In other words, if a seed gene is recessive, it will not show up within the plant, however, the dominant trait will. Mendel’s work and theories, later became the basis for the study of modern genetics, and are still recognized and used today.
His work led to the discovery of particulate inheritance, dominant and recessive traits, genotype and phenotype, and the concept of heterozygous and homozygous. Unfortunately, Gregor Mendel was not recognized for his work by his scientific peers. He found actual proof of the existence of genes, and is considered to be the father of genetics, though his work was relatively unappreciated until the early 1900’s.