Introduction

Gregor Mendel was a member of a monastery in the mid-19th century in what is now the Czech Republic. In addition to his work at the monastery, he conducted a series of experiments with the ordinary garden pea that would, years after his death, spark a scientific revolution that is still reverberating through fields as diverse as medicine and food production. Mendel conducted his research using seven characteristics of the plants, the pods, and the seeds. He was, in several ways, fortunate in his choice of experimental material and characteristics. He was able to achieve clear results that would probably not have happened had he chosen differently. Following several years of meticulous work, he delivered two lectures in 1865 to the Natural History Society of Briinn and, in 1866, wrote a lengthy paper presenting his results. His conclusions lay dormant, despite his communication with some of the leading scientists of the time, until three scientists, Hugo deVries, Carl Correns, and Erich von Tschermak, working independently in 1900, discovered the concepts and performed the necessary research to confirm the results. By the close of the 20th century, the entire human genome had been mapped, making the 20th century, quite literally, the century of genetics.

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