Mendel and His Pea Plants
People have long known that the characteristics of living things are similar in parents and their offspring. Whether it’s the flower color in pea plants or nose shape in people, it is obvious that offspring resemble their parents.
Mendel’s discoveries formed the basis of genetics, the science of heredity. That’s why Mendel is often called the “father of genetics.” It’s not common for a single researcher to have such an important impact on science.
To research how characteristics are passed from parents to offspring, Mendel needed to control pollination. Pollination is the fertilization step in the sexual reproduction of plants. Pollen consists of tiny grains that are the male gametes of plants. They are produced by a male flower part called the anther.
Pea plants are naturally self-pollinating. In self-pollination, pollen grains from anthers on one plant are transferred to stigmas of flowers on the same plant.
When pollen from one plant fertilizes another plant of the same species, it is called cross-pollination. The offspring that result from such a cross are called hybrids.
Gregor Mendel experimented with pea plants to learn how characteristics are passed from parents to offspring.
Mendel’s discoveries formed the basis of genetics, the science of heredity.
Cross-pollination produces hybrids.