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Mendel’s Second Law Essay

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Updated: Oct 20th, 2020

Though known to many people during his time as a monk, the experiments Gregor Mendel carried at his garden brought the botanists side of Mendel. His studies in the trends on how traits are inherited from the parents provided a solid foundation for studying genes, their associated traits and how they are inherited. One of the breaks through he made in his studies was discovery of the independent assortment of genes.

By carrying out crosses between dihybrid plants, he was able to come up with his second law of inheritance, the Law of Independent Assortment of genes. This law states that individual genes encoding for individual traits are independently passed from parents to offspring. This occurs during gamete formation at anaphase I of the first meiotic division when the alleles of these different genes separate and join with others independently.

The resulting gamete will produce an offspring with novel traits different from the parental generation after fertilization. However, this is only true for those plants which two traits and if the loci or alleles are not located on the same chromosome since such genes are considered to be linked hence inherited together. The resulting dihybrid cross between the heterozygous parents will produce offspring with phenotypic ratio of 9:3:3:1 unlike in monohybrid inheritance where the phenotypic ratio was 3:1.

Given our current understanding of the concept of the relationship between DNA, gene and trait, this law holds water. The DNA of any organism has the nucleotides responsible for coding for the gene of the organism. However, it is the gene products that are manifested in the form of traits. Hence, as the group of genes (alleles) independently assort themselves during anaphase I of the first meiotic division of gamete formation, they will form completely new traits.

These new traits are independently inherited by offspring. This law applies to both plants and animals. The same principle it uses to explain why a dwarf plant with purple flowers may arise from tall parents with yellow and white flowers is also used to explain why a human offspring may have the same eye color as the parents but will have one finger extra. A normal adult human being has 46 chromosomes hence this number needs to be halved in order to produce an offspring the same number of chromosomes.

The process of halving the number of chromosomes occurs during gametogenesis. The resulting 23 pairs of chromosomes have over eight million possible combinations. Even though the gamete formed has 23 chromosomes, the origin of any these chromosomes can randomly originate from either of the parents.

Even though he never had the current powerful tools, technology and machines to carry out his work, Gregor Mendel is considered a botany genius due to his grasp of the hereditary patterns in plants. His works have stood the test of time and are still being used today in the study of inheritance patterns in plants and animals. The analogy of specific alleles from generation to generation he provided from carrying numerous crosses provided a benchmark for producing plants and animals with superior traits.

Though lacking proper terms to give the key factor in his study which was genes, his analysis of the gene products (traits) was accurate. Despite lacking the current knowledge we have on DNA, gene and trait, his conclusions or laws were based on the concept of DNA, gene and trait concept. Thus, the Law of Independent Assortment is accurate.

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