Gregor mendel

Gregor Johann Mendel

Photography: Gregor Johann Mendel

Austrian Gregor Johann Mendel (1822-1884). A priest but also a botanist, he was one of the founders of the Society of Naturalists (Naturforschender Verein) in Brünn and discovered the laws of heredity that bear his name. 

Credit: Hulton Archive / Getty Images


The absence of any trial and error in his experiments on hybridization , like the exceptional reliability of this enormous work plan, probably mean that it was above all a question of verifying an already developed hypothesis. Ignored at the time of its publication, Mendel's work would not be recognized until thirty-five years later following the independent work of three botanists, H. de Vries, K. E. Correns, E. Tschermak (1900).

Man of religion and man of science

Born in Heinzendorf in Moravia, into a family of poor peasants, Johann Mendel entered the Augustinian order at Brünn (today Brno, Czechoslovakia) at the age of twenty-one, where he took the name of Gregor from his novitiate. Ordained a priest in 1848, he devoted himself to teaching for about twenty years, but had the disappointment of never obtaining the diploma of full professor of public education. After a first failure in 1850, he made, at the expense of his community, a stay of two years (1851-1853) at the University of Vienna to improve there in physics (under the magisterium of C. Doppler), zoology , botany and paleontology. In 1856, for health reasons, he had to withdraw from the tests for the title of professor of physical and natural sciences. He returned to Brünn where, for two years already, he had been teaching science at the modern state college. It was there, occupying his free time in multiple researches: beekeeping, meteorology, botany, that he undertook a series of hybridization experiments on the pea, which would last for eight years. Elected in 1868 superior of his convent, Mendel abandoned his research on hybridization around 1870, limited his observations to meteorology and, until his death, devoted his forces to the affairs of his community.

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