An Essay On The "Rediscovery" Of Mendel's Work

1157 words - 5 pages

An Essay on the "Rediscovery" of Mendel's Work

Gregor Johann Mendel is widely considered as the founder of modern genetics as a result of his now famous pea plant experiments that were carried out between the years of 1856 and 1863. The experiments ultimately established the numerous rules of heredity that are referred to in genetics to this day (Nirenberg, n.d.). Additionally , he is known for coining the genetic terms "recessive" and "dominant" in an effort to refer to certain traits in the experiments, such as green peas being recessive and yellow ones dominant. His work was published in 1866 establishing the actions of "invisible" factors now known simply as genes in providing for visible traits in predictable ways. Mendel seemed to enjoy his accomplishments privately as his work was discovered three decades later by scientists conducting agricultural research. The scientists were: Erich Tschermak, Hugo de Vries, and Carl Correns who all independently verified Mendel's work leading to the "age of genetics" where we gained even more knowledge on genes and even DNA. (Nirenberg, n.d.).
Hugo Marie de Vries was a Dutch botanist and one of the first geneticists who started studying hybridization. Through his studies, he was convinced that traits were inherited as independent components. In 1893, he collected data from the hairy and hairless species of Lychnis and found that crossing both species resulted in the production of all hairy hybrids. In the following year however, he described that the F2 generation resulted in a 2:1 ratio of hairy: hairless plants. On the 26th of March 1900, at the Académie des Sciences, de Vries presented his paper "On the law of segregation in hybrids" in which he described hybridization in more than 80 species. This paper was remarkably similar to Mendel's as de Vries opted to use Mendel's terms of recessive and dominant as opposed to his usual terms of active and latent (Moore, 2001).
De Vries was studying the starchy and sugary fruits of corn but failed to mention the law of segregation and the 9:3:3:1 ratio in his studies. He did, however, elevate Mendel's discrete 3:1 ratio to a law by reporting the observations found which proved that 1/4 of the grains were sugary whereas 3/4 were starchy. However, this was an shift in paradigm for De Vries since he had never reported his F2 results in a 3:1 ratio nor thought in Mendelian terms. Following the 1900s, however, his work became more quantitative like Mendel's. His initial F2 ratio findings for Lychnis of 2/3 hairy:1/3 hairless then became 3/4 hairy:1/4 hairless when his work was published in 1900 even though the results were closer to a 2:1 ratio than a 3:1 ratio. Never did he give an explanation of his results, and his data was not substantial to lead him to the law of segregation as he mentioned that the F2 data was composed of different combinations and mixtures (Moore, 2001).
In 1897, he reported an 80:20 ratio for flower-color in Linaria...

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