Lima, Peru, Jul 21, 2011 / 16:03 pm
Internet giant Google paid homage to Austrian priest and biologist Father Gregor Mendel, considered the father of modern genetics.
The design that appeared on the search engine’s homepage on July 21 featured the two pea plants that Fr. Mendel used in his experiment.
During a speech marking the 100th anniversary of the death of Fr. Mendel in 1984, Blessed Pope John Paul II said, “Gregor Mendel was a man of Christian and Catholic culture. During his life, prayer and praise sustained the research and reflection of this patient observer and scientific genius.”
“Based on the example of his teacher, St. Augustine, Gregor Mendel learned through the observation of nature and the contemplation of its Author to unite with one leap the search for the truth with the certainty of already knowing it in the Creator-Word,” the late Pope said.
Journalist Alberto Carrara explained that Fr. Mendel, who was born in Heinzendorf (in the present-day Czech Republic), took an interest in science because of his passion for agriculture. In 1843 he entered the Augustinian monastery at Altbrunn and in 1847 he made his religious vows and was ordained a priest.
While studying theology, he also attended courses on agriculture and vine growing, where he learned from Franz Diebl the method of artificial pollination as the main way of improving controlled plant growth.
Between 1851 and 1853, he studied at the University of Vienna where he heard the theories of Fr. Unger for the first time, on the mutation of species and the age of the earth.
In 1865 during a conference of the Natural Sciences Society, Fr. Mendel presented the results of his research, which would later form the scientific basis for modern genetics.
He died in Brunn on January 6, 1884.
Mendel’s three laws of genetics have proven to be essential in modern-day research.
The first law, called the Law of Segregation, states that offspring receive a pair of genes for each inherited trait, one gene from each of its parents. These pairs separate randomly when the offspring’s genes are formed. Thus, a parent hands down only one gene of each pair to its offspring.
The second law, called the Law of Independent Assortment, states that offspring inherit each of its traits independent of other traits because they are sorted separately.
The third is the Law of Dominance, which states that when offspring inherit two different genes for a trait, one gene will be dominant and the other will be recessive. The trait of the dominant gene will appear in the offspring.