Gr 7-10-Before Mendel's experiments with plants, there was only folk wisdom and the general acceptance that offspring-plant, animal, and human-resemble their parents. Even at the time of his death in 1884, Mendel's work was not widely known in the scientific community. This biography provides details of the scientist's life and his experiments as well as the political and social context of his times. Sidebars in some of the chapters are listed in the table of contents, making it easy to locate the discussion of such related topics as "Heredity before Mendel," "Mendel and Darwin," "Did Mendel Cheat?" and "The Human Genome Project." A two-page chronology tracks important events in his life and the vital contributions he made to the study of genetics. Black-and-white photographs, reproductions of artwork, and pages from the scientist's notebooks and manuscripts accompany the text.-Frances E. Millhouser, Chantilly Regional Library, VA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Many of us know that Gregor Mendel, an Augustinian monk, discovered the basic principles of inheritance through his experiments with garden peas in the 1860s. Today we call him the "Father of Genetics," but his landmark discovery of genetic principles was but one facet of his many endeavors and, at the time of his death, was barely recognized. Experiments leading to Mendel's conclusions, his application of mathematics to biological research, the fact that his work was ignored by scientists for more than three decades, and the eventual rediscovery of Mendelian principles in 1900 make for one of the most fascinating stories in the history of scienceone that is also widely known. This brief telling of the tale fills in some of the gaps, especially about Mendel's family, his schooling, his work in the monastery, his work breeding fuchsia and fruit trees (apple, pear, and apricot), and his studies of meteorology, water tables, astronomy, and beekeeping. With such an interesting story to tell, it is regrettable that the text suffers from a lack of peer review, faulty editing, or both. Some typographical errors puzzle the reader, as when, in describing the results of a dihybrid cross, we are told, "When he planted the 556 seeds, he got 629 plants...." It was 529 plants! The genus Lychnis is spelled correctly (p. 82), but then, three words later, is spelled "Lynch." On the same page, "ration" should be "ratio." Other errors are more substantial and reveal a lack of understanding of basic plant biology. An illustration on page 37 shows sperm and egg formation and fertilization in moss, but the antheridium (sperm-producing organ) is called "the pollen-producing or male part of the plant."Pollen, of course, is not sperm, but again, on page 41, we read "a grain of pollen, the plant version of sperm." There is some misunderstanding about gene linkage (p. 48) and the work of T. H. Morgan. Phaseolus is called a pea genus, but is really the genus of garden beans. One expects more thorough peer review from such a prestigious press. (from the Oxford Portraits in Science Series.) Acceptable, Grades 7-12, Teaching Professional, General Audience. REVIEWER: Dr. David W. Kramer (Ohio State University)