Mendal was born on July 22, 1822 in a village named Heinzendorf near Brunn in Austria, now Brno in Czechoslovakia. He was the second son of his father. His father was a successful farmer and fruit grower too. His ancestry was a mixture of German and Czech. He graduated in 1840 and was admitted to the Augustinian monastery at Brunn in 1843. Mendel became a monk in 1847 in the age of twenty five.
In 1851, he was sent to the University of Vienna by the monastery authorities where he studied mathematics, physics and philosophy for two years, 1851-1853. Yet Mendal was diligent and sincere student but he did not do well in his studies, specially in mathematics and physics.
After completing his studies, he returned to Brunn in 1854 where he began his carrier as a temporary science teacher for fourteen years. His teaching subject was Physics and Natural History. He utilized his leisure time for conducting experiments on plant hybridization. It is said that his interest in evolution and origin of species was instrumental in directing his line of research.
When he was doing research, Mendel became a thorough student of Darwin’s work. He did not accept Darwin’s theories as adequate even though he was not opposed to evolution. Mendel carried on original experiments for seven years upon garden pea plant (Pisum sativum) in small kitchen garden of his house with the help of his own resources.
The results which he obtained with peas (Pisum sativum) were sent to his teacher Carlvon Nageli for perusal but he failed to appreciate the importance of Mendel’s work.
Later he presented his findings before the Natural History Society of Brunn at two of its mettings on February 8 and March 8, 1865. This paper, entitled “Expts. in plant Hybridization” was presented in German language and was published in annual proceedings of the Society in 1866.
The proceedings were distributed to more than one hundred twenty (120) other Societies, Universities and Academics in different countries. Unfortunately his work was not recognized during his life time. He died in 1884 unrecognized and bitterly disappointed. His great contribution to genetics was not brought to light till 1900.
His line of work was later discovered by three botanists named de Vries of Holland, Von Tshermak of Austria and Correns of Germany. They realised that because Mendel’s results were published nearly thirty four years ago before their own work, so they named these principles of heredity after him.
In later years, Mendel performed experiments with bees and rajma plant (Phaseolus vulgaris) and on climatology but gradually he became more and more involved with the monastery administration, of which he became abbot in 1868.
Mendel’s principles were applied to plants as well as animals by Bateson in England, Cuenot from France and Castle from U.S.A. Castle has stated:
“Mendel has an analytical mind of first order which enabled him to plan and carry through successfully the most original and instructive series of studies in heredity ever executed.”
In view of the above, genetics may be defined as the science which deals with the organisation, transmission, structure and function of genes and origin of variation in them.