Mendel at 200: Aoife McLysaght honours the Father of Genetics
Posted on: 20 July 2022
Gregor Johann Mendel – the “Father of Genetics” – was born 200 years ago this July. The first person to join the dots regarding the mechanism of heredity, Mendel shone a focused light on the workings of what we now know to be genes.
To mark the 200th anniversary of his birth, Aoife McLysaght, Professor in Trinity’s School of Genetics and Microbiology, has written a perspective piece about a scientist whose research has had – and continues to have – a tremendous impact on numerous disciplines.
In the piece, just published in leading journal PLOS Biology, Professor McLysaght underlines that while Mendel’s work has been pivotal in better educating millions about genetic inheritance, it has often been oversimplified. She writes:
“Mendel’s expertly-designed experiments, combined with his brilliant capacity for deduction, revealed the basis of heredity and thus the common language of all biology.
“Humans, uniquely, and starting with Mendel, are the only species that has developed an understanding of heredity and how genetic information is transmitted across generations and how genes help shape all biological life on this planet.
“Though we describe supposed single-gene deterministic traits as ‘Mendelian’, I know of no evidence that suggests Mendel himself conceived of such a fanciful system. We honour Mendel by remembering his work, acknowledging its significance, and not attributing to him our modern-day errors of interpretation and over-simplification.”
The full perspective piece can be read on the publisher’s website.