Revealing Our Genetic Heritage

On this day in 1865, Austrian monk Gregor Johann Mendel presented seminal results of his plant-breeding experiments at a meeting of the National Sciences Society in Brno, Czechoslovakia. Although Mendel's work passed unnoticed for decades, it became the basis for the science of genetics. After 8 years of cultivating some 28,000 pea plants and analyzing seven pairs of seed and plant traits, Mendel uncovered the fundamentals of heredity, including the concepts of dominant and recessive traits, and recombination. Mendel was a pioneer in using statistical analysis of large sets of numbers to extract laws of nature from seemingly random phenomena.

[Source: Charles Coulston Gillespie, Ed., Dictionary of Scientific Biography (Charles Scribner's Sons, New York, 1973).]