Mendel on Patterns of Inheritance

How did Mendel’s approach to answering scientific questions differ from that of his contemporaries?

Well, there were many differences between Mendel and his contemporaries. For instance, he applied mathematics to plant breeding, which no one else had done. By doing this he was able to accurately track gene inheritance, even recessive gene inheritance, through many generations. He also constricted his study to only seven traits rather than many. This allowed him to more accurately track genetic inheritance.  

How did his novel approach contribute to his success in describing how traits are inherited?

Mendel was able to isolate 7 traits by controlling the male gamete. He breaded a pure variety of one kind of pea and then cross-bread it with another variety to find out how the factors were passed on. At the time it was thought that two different species would blend, but through his controlled experiments, he found that certain traits were passed on and certain one came up in later generations. This completely contradicted the conventional wisdom of the time.

What advantages did he enjoy by choosing to study the garden pea?

Apparently, the garden pea was easily manipulated during breeding experiments. By the time that Mendel started his experiments, there were many stable varieties of garden peas.

Piecing It Together on p.78 of the text describes the six major concluding principles Mendel hypothesized from his work. Describe three of them.

  1. Well, Mendel’s most basic discovery was that traits were inherited through genes. These genes are passed from parent to offspring and exhibit themselves through what Mendel called factors or what we call alleles. 
  2. The second discovery was that each gene of an offspring was the product of both parents. If the offspring’s resultant gene incorporated the same gene from both parents, then the gene is referred to as homozygous for that trait. If the offspring’s resultant gene had one gene from one parent and a different one from the other parent then the gene is referred to as heterozygous.
  3. Another aspect of genetic inheritance is that genes passed on to offspring can be dominant or recessive. If both a recessive and a dominant gene are passed to an offspring, then the dominant gene will be the one that expresses itself in that allele. Although the recessive gene is present and can pass onto their offspring and become dominant it does not express itself in the current individual.


Pruitt, N. L., & Underwood, L. S. (2006). Bioinquiry: Making connections in biology (3rd ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


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