Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Happy Birthday, Gregor

Gregor Johann Mendel was born today in 1822 in Heinzendorf bei Odrau, Austrian Silesia, Austrian Empire (now HynĨice, Czech Republic). As most of us know, his experiments with peas laid the foundation of modern genetics and made possible the Modern Synthesis that makes sense of all biology.

I remember well doing the F1, F2 charts in college. A Hereford crossed with a Black Angus (red recessive to black, white face/feet dominant to self-coloring) was so much more interesting than yellow and green peas. Ditto the Shorthorn cattle (red-roan-white) and red-pink-white flowers.

Or, as my old professor once said: I told the Palomino people I could guarantee 'em 100% palomino foals, but that they wouldn't like it. And they didn't. (Palomino is the result of one incompletely dominant gene acting on red, so to get 100% palominos you don't breed from them, you breed a cream stallion to chestnut mares...) And you don't breed merle collies to each other, since their recessive is lethal...

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