My scientific studies have afforded me great gratification; and I am convinced that it will not be longbefore the whole world acknowledges the results of my work.
It was an Austrian Monk who first laid down the laws of genetic inheritance. In the 1860s he noticed that if pea plants producing purple flowers were pollinated by white flowered pea plants, the resulting seeds all produced plants with purple coloured flowers. Next, Mendel crossed the offspring of this purple-white flower cross (all of which had purple flowers) with each other. This resulted in a population (known as an F2 generation) of plants in which three-quarters produced purple flowers and one-quarter produced white flowers, i.e. a 3:1 ratio.
From this data Mendel developed his laws of inheritance, particularly the Law of dominance; when an organism has two different variants (we now use the term alleles) for a trait, the allele that is expressed, overshadowing the expression of the other allele, is said to be dominant (i.e. the purple flower – denoted by P in the diagram). The gene whose expression is overshadowed is said to be recessive (i.e. the white flower – denoted by p in the diagram).
Mendel published his findings in 1866 in the little-known journal Proceedings of the Natural History Society of Brunn. Even though these were possibly the most exciting findings ever in the field of science, signalling the birth of genetics, they had little impact being cited only three times over the next 35 years.
It was not until 1900 that other scientists rediscovered his work. Hugo de Vries published his findings, neglecting to mention Mendel. This prompted Carl Correns (a student of the renowned botanist Nägeli, whom Mendel corresponded about his work with peas but who failed to understand its significance) to remind de Vries about Mendel. Coincidently, at the same time, Erich von Tschermak, the grandson of Mendel's old botany, also produced supporting findings. However, Mendel had long since died in 1884 from chronic nephritis.