Gregor Mendel: And the Roots of Genetics

Gregor Mendel: And the Roots of Genetics

by Edward Edelson
     
 

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When Gregor Mendel passed away in 1884, not a single scholar recognized his epochal contributions to biology. The unassuming abbot of the Augustinian monastery in Brno (in today's Czech Republic) was rediscovered at the turn of the century when scientists were stunned to learn that their findings about inheritance had already been made by an unknown monk three decades

Overview

When Gregor Mendel passed away in 1884, not a single scholar recognized his epochal contributions to biology. The unassuming abbot of the Augustinian monastery in Brno (in today's Czech Republic) was rediscovered at the turn of the century when scientists were stunned to learn that their findings about inheritance had already been made by an unknown monk three decades earlier. A dedicated researcher who spent every spare hour in the study of the natural sciences, Mendel devised a series of brilliantly simple experiments using a plant easily grown on the monastery's grounds--the garden pea. In the course of just a few years he made the famous discoveries that later became the centerpiece of the science of heredity. In an entertaining and thoroughly informed narrative, Edward Edelson traces Mendel's life from his humble origins to his posthumous fame, giving us both a brief introduction to the fascinating science of genetics and an inspired account of what a modest man can accomplish with dedication and ingenuity.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Edelson expertly weaves technical information with personal detail to present a fascinating introduction to the science of genetics and a compelling portrait of Gregor (nee Johann) Mendel, whose groundbreaking research about inheritance in the garden pea went largely unnoticed during his life. Excerpts from primary source material help the reader see the gentle abbot of the Augustinian monastery of St. Thomas in Brno as a brilliant young student whose financial struggles led him to a religious life. He was a sensitive priest relieved of parish duties because visits to the ailing made him ill, a gifted teacher who failed his teaching certification exam because he lacked preparation time, and a dedicated scientist whose work with plant hybrids—rediscovered a quarter of a century after his death—served as the foundation of modern genetics. Sidebars about heredity before Mendel, the charge by Fisher that Mendel manipulated data, and the Human Genome Project extend the narrative. Meticulously researched, engagingly written and illustrated with black-and-white photos and botanical drawings, this outstanding biography is one of the "Oxford Portraits in Science" series. 1999, Oxford University Press, $24.00 and $11.95. Ages 12 up. Reviewer: Ellen R. Braaf<%ISBN%>0195122267
KLIATT
Part of the ongoing Oxford Portraits in Science series, Gregor Mendel is intended for YAs. It is brief, clearly written, and lavishly illustrated. It gives the bare bones about Mendel's life as a monk, teacher, and later abbot, as well as his historic study of genetics in peas. The last two chapters deal with his rediscovery some 30 years after his death and his modern legacy, including a brief mention of the Human Genome Project. There is a chronology at the end. Its author has written more than 20 books on science, several for YAs. For older and more able readers, The Monk in the Garden by Robin Marantz Henig is an excellent choice—a highly praised biography written with panache and highly detailed. Henig's book was reviewed in the Nov. 2001 issue of KLIATT. (Oxford Portraits in Science) Category: Biography & Personal Narrative. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 1999, Oxford Univ. Press, 108p. illus. bibliog. index., Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Janet Julian; English Teacher, Grafton H.S., Grafton, MA
School Library Journal
Gr 7-10-Before Mendel's experiments with plants, there was only folk wisdom and the general acceptance that offspring-plant, animal, and human-resemble their parents. Even at the time of his death in 1884, Mendel's work was not widely known in the scientific community. This biography provides details of the scientist's life and his experiments as well as the political and social context of his times. Sidebars in some of the chapters are listed in the table of contents, making it easy to locate the discussion of such related topics as "Heredity before Mendel," "Mendel and Darwin," "Did Mendel Cheat?" and "The Human Genome Project." A two-page chronology tracks important events in his life and the vital contributions he made to the study of genetics. Black-and-white photographs, reproductions of artwork, and pages from the scientist's notebooks and manuscripts accompany the text.-Frances E. Millhouser, Chantilly Regional Library, VA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Many of us know that Gregor Mendel, an Augustinian monk, discovered the basic principles of inheritance through his experiments with garden peas in the 1860s. Today we call him the "Father of Genetics," but his landmark discovery of genetic principles was but one facet of his many endeavors and, at the time of his death, was barely recognized. Experiments leading to Mendel's conclusions, his application of mathematics to biological research, the fact that his work was ignored by scientists for more than three decades, and the eventual rediscovery of Mendelian principles in 1900 make for one of the most fascinating stories in the history of science—one that is also widely known. This brief telling of the tale fills in some of the gaps, especially about Mendel's family, his schooling, his work in the monastery, his work breeding fuchsia and fruit trees (apple, pear, and apricot), and his studies of meteorology, water tables, astronomy, and beekeeping. With such an interesting story to tell, it is regrettable that the text suffers from a lack of peer review, faulty editing, or both. Some typographical errors puzzle the reader, as when, in describing the results of a dihybrid cross, we are told, "When he planted the 556 seeds, he got 629 plants...." It was 529 plants! The genus Lychnis is spelled correctly (p. 82), but then, three words later, is spelled "Lynch." On the same page, "ration" should be "ratio." Other errors are more substantial and reveal a lack of understanding of basic plant biology. An illustration on page 37 shows sperm and egg formation and fertilization in moss, but the antheridium (sperm-producing organ) is called "the pollen-producing or male part of the plant."Pollen, of course, is not sperm, but again, on page 41, we read "a grain of pollen, the plant version of sperm." There is some misunderstanding about gene linkage (p. 48) and the work of T. H. Morgan. Phaseolus is called a pea genus, but is really the genus of garden beans. One expects more thorough peer review from such a prestigious press. (from the Oxford Portraits in Science Series.) Acceptable, Grades 7-12, Teaching Professional, General Audience. REVIEWER: Dr. David W. Kramer (Ohio State University)
From the Publisher
"This biography provides details of the scientist's life and his experiments as well as the political and social context of his times."—School Library Journal

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195122268
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
06/28/1999
Series:
Oxford Portraits in Science Series
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
112
Sales rank:
885,363
Product dimensions:
9.30(w) x 6.70(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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