Why were Mendel's laws of inheritance not accepted for so many years?
A personal inquiry
- Shigeru Kondo -
Who is the greatest biologist of all times?
If you are a biologist or a biology student, you will most probably have had discussions in the past about who deserves the title of “The greatest Biologist of all Times”. Undoubtedly, many can make a legitimate claim. Should it be Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), the first zoologist or Carl von Linné (1707-1778), the founder of taxonomy? Or rather Edward Jenner (1749-1823), considered the father of immunology? Or perhaps Louis Pasteur (1822-1895), who's experiments dispelled the theory of generatio spontanea, widely accepted in his time? And what about Robert Koch (1843-1910), who identified bacteria as the cause of disease, or Alexander Fleming (1881-1955), discoverer of antibiotics, or maybe…?
Surely, not a few would grant the title of greatest biologist to Charles Darwin (1809-1882), author of “On the Origin of Species”. His theory about evolution has revolutionized biology and has eventually freed the biological sciences from the dogma of religion. It is no exaggeration to state that his ideas have substantially contributed to the intellectual shaping of our modern society and as such his influence can hardly be overestimated. However, I would like to recommend a contemporary of Darwin for this prestigious title: Gregor Mendel (1822-1884). Why? Because his laws of inheritance constitute nothing less than the beginning of modern genetics and have substantially contributed to the rise of the new, powerful science of molecular biology. Without knowledge of Mendel's laws, genetic experiments - and a lot of biological experiments for that matter - would not be interpretable. As a matter of fact, I consider the contribution of Charles Darwin - without defying the importance of the concept of evolution - to modern biology rather modest, in comparison with the magnificent work of Gregor Mendel.