Born in the 19th century, in a modest family, in a village called Hyncice that was part of the Hapsburg Empire, Gregor Mendel was the only son of Anton and Rosine. Raised as a humble, yet different child. He was not meant for labor work, like his father who was a farmer. Gregor Mendel has a strong interest for knowledge and learning as much as he could. He was soon transferred from the school in his village to a more challenging one in Lipnik, mostly because his teachers noticed that he was unusually intelligent for a boy his age. (Edelson, 2001, p.21) However, his parents struggled to keep him in school. A few years later, Mendel decided to study to be a teacher and earn his own money to pay for his education. During his time spent at the secondary school in Opava, he developed a passion for natural history, studying in the school’s museum. Although he was very determined to start living on his own money, he was followed by misfortune. At age 21, he entered the Augustinian monastery of St. Thomas in Brno, where he continued feeding his thirst for knowledge in a peaceful environment.
Gregor Mendel only started experimenting with plants after he was 32 years old. This is the moment when he realized that “Plants have sex.”(Edelson, 2001, p. 41) After consulting with famous botanists, Mendel started a chain of experiments with peas. This is what led to what we know today as recessive genes. He tried to demonstrate that the features of a specific type of peas can be transmitted to the next generations if he managed to breed the plants properly. Moreover, the recessive genes that are present in one species of peas seem to be present as well in a certain percentage of the offspring. (Edelson, 2001, p.47)
Consequent to the thorough experiments he has performed over the years, he has determined two laws of heredity that are the base of the nowadays genetic engineering. The main result of his experiments have proven that the dominant traits, or alleles, appear in 75% of the offspring and only 25% is the recurrence of recessive traits. In addition, Mendel has demonstrated that the offspring do not inherit all the dominant traits or all the recessive ones at the same time. Therefore, only some of the features determined by the alleles can appear in each offspring. (Leech, 2007, p. 28)
As far as the many uses of the Mendelian heritage laws, the modern genetics technology is based on them most of the time. For example, two specialists, Itano and Pauling, have compared the blood analysis of the sickle-cell patients with those with normal erythrocytes. Thanks to the Mendelian recessive character, they managed to link the illness called sicklemia with a recessive trait present in the genome of those presenting the disease. (Watson, 2003, p. 66) What is more, there are countless conditions that can be explained with the help of the hereditary rules set up by Gregor Mendel. Due to the expression of recessive genes, many specialists have clarified the predisposition of some people to develop certain diseases.
Apart from the obviously important use of the Mendelian laws in the determination of diseases with congenital features, genetic engineering experts have managed to conclude the manner in which some children are born with completely different features than their parents’. This has proven itself to be of high importance, because instances such as an Afro-American child born from two Caucasian parents seemed to be almost impossible. As it turns out, recessive genes can act this way, giving the offspring certain features that did not express in their parents’ genome.
All in all, the work of Gregor Mendel is without any doubt important and extremely useful both for the diagnosis of certain diseases and for determinations such as paternity tests. It is vital to keep in mind the fact that knowing exactly how recessive alleles work has and will continue to revolutionize the genetic engineering, giving experts the opportunity to create new traits and solve multiple problems that modern medicine faces.