The traits and characteristics that distinguish different living entities from each other (for instance, the color of eyes and height in humans, the number of limbs in amphibians, the size of wings in birds) are bifurcated into two categories. Some of these characteristics are shaped by the environment the organism lives in, while the others are a result of the phenomenon of inheritance, i.e. the passing on of the traits from the parent to the offspring.
The first impressions of thorough and focused research in genetics are hard to trace back in time, however, it may be safely stated that the official commencement of the genetic studies is credited to the works of Gregor Mendel, a German-Czech Augustinian monk and scientist who disproved the prevalent inheritance concepts of the mid nineteenth century. The primary contribution of Mendel was the busting of the idea of blending inheritance which argued that an offspring acquires a continuous blend of its parents’ traits.
Mendel conducted diligent studies on pea plant specimens. He observed that even though the environmental factors governing them were different, the subsequent generations still exhibited the expected patterns of behavior. His research paper, “Versuche über Pflanzenhybriden”, was so extensive and comprehensive that this approach of classical genetics has been christened Mendelian genetics. This ideology of separating the physical characteristics of a species for observation across a series of generations finds widespread application till this time and remains a reliable tool to demystify the process of inheritance of traits.
The gist of Menedelin’s voluminous works is the assertion that each physical trait of a breed is the result of a coded entity called gene, and that the patterns of inheritance can be predicted and manipulated through simple the understanding of simple rules and ratios. An offspring’s acquisition of traits depends upon the manner in which the genes from the two parents interact. Complementing the advancements in Mandelian breed of genetics is the field of molecular genetics. This branch is rather contemporary and has spread its wings only after the invention of the advanced microscopes. Twentieth century geneticists have made further in-roads into the basics of gene study by discovering the molecule that carries the information of an organism’s characteristics, called the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). The coalescence of the two bases of genetics has incited the maturation of numerous biological advancements and health care revolutions.