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How do Mendel’s pea plants help us understand genetics?

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Plant height, pod shape and color, seed shape and color, flower position and color; Gregor Mendel studied these characteristics of pea plants in his garden to find out how certain traits might be passed from one generation to the next. His groundbreaking work in the 1850s and 60s, posthumously recognized, explained the mechanisms behind heredity and became a cornerstone for the field of genetics.

Mendel’s conclusion: Pea plant traits passed to the following crop in specific patterns, now referred to as the laws of Mendelian inheritance or Mendelism. How does this explain why you have the eye color you have?

This TED-Ed video demystifies Mendel’s research, and demonstrates how the Punnett square, Reginald C. Punnett’s diagrammatic tool, can be “used by biologists to determine the probability of an offspring’s having a particular genotype.”

A few definitions from this CSU East Bay pdf:

“Genotype: The genetic makeup of the organism, observed when examining the DNA.

Phenotype: The physical makeup of the organism, encompassing the visible characteristics.

Note: Genotype and Phenotype are not the same! What you observe in the phenotype may differ in the genotype. This is why the Punnett square is essential for understanding these differences.”

Punnett Square

“Homozygous: When both alleles are of the same type, either both dominant or both recessive.

Heterozygous: When the alleles differ in type, with one being dominant and the other recessive. Dominant alleles almost always mask recessive alleles.

Dominant allele: The trait that has a higher probability of occurring and is more likely to be seen.

Recessive allele: The trait that has a lower probability and may not be physically visible.”

Watch these related videos on TKSST:
β€’Β Five fingers of evolution – TED Ed
β€’Β Wolf to Dog Evolution: How Dogs (Eventually) Became Our Best Friends
β€’Β Who was the first human?

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