Die Bodenkultur - Journal for Land Management, Food and Environment

J. Vollmann and P. Ruckenbauer:

From Gregor Mendel to molecular plant breeding - a review


After a retrospect on the publication of Gregor Mendel's paper and on the circumstances of its rediscovery, the discussion of Mendel's "too close" results is revisited. Evidence from computer simulations is presented, which suggests that the segregation ratio reported by Mendel for experiment 2 is highly credible. The retrospect closes with a glance on interpreting Mendel's work as being opposed to Darwinism.

In a section on molecular genetics, recent results on the wrinkled seed character of pea are discussed. It has been shown that the wrinkled seed phenotype described by Mendel is due to an insertion of a transposable element into a gene coding for starch-branching. Finally, the possibility of dissecting quantitative characters into distinct Mendelian factors using molecular markers is considered. Mapping of quantitative trait loci has solved the old struggle between Mendelian and quantitative genetics and is of considerable interest for selection of characters with low heritability in practical plant breeding.

Key words:  Mendelism, history of genetics, segregation ratio, Darwinism, molecular generics.