Mendelian Genetics Challenged

Think back to high school biology. What did you learn about? Among other things, you probably learned all about Gregor Mendel, the Austrian monk who experiemented with peas and formed our basic understanding of inheritance. Now, researches from Purdue University have come up with evidence that contradicts some basic rules of plant evolution formed by Mendel:

In the experiment, the Purdue researchers found that 10 percent of watercress plants with two copies of a mutant gene called “hothead” didn’t always blossom with deformed flowers like their parents, which carried the mutant genes. Instead, those plants had normal white flowers like their grandparents, which didn’t carry the hothead gene and the deformity appeared only for a single generation. The normal watercress plants with hothead genes appear to have kept a copy of the genetic coding from the grandparent plants and used it as a template to grow normally.

All I can say is “hardcore.” Makes me wonder if everything I learned about inheritance might be wrong one day, or at least fundamentally different. Details of the new experiment appear in today’s issue of Nature.

Read: Wired

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