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Gregor Mendel, gene genius, honoured in Google Doodle

Gregor Mendel is the subject of a Google Doodle. The 'father of modern genetics' noted laws of inherited traits in pea plants, but his work would not be recognised until after his death.

Gregor Mendel, the Austrian 'father of genetics', has been awarded the highest honour available to members of the scientific community -- a Google Doodle celebrating his life and works.

Visit Google today -- Mendel's 189th birthday -- and you'll see a delightful pea-pod diagram, a charming reference to the work Mendel did on pea plants, identifying rules for inherited traits in the 29,000 plants he grew in the two-hectare garden of the Abbey of St Thomas in Brno.

Mendel clocked that when you mix two plants together, the result is not a precise blend of the two, but that there are hereditary 'factors' (later called 'genes') that can be dominant or recessive. These different characteristics would later be termed alleles.

He realised factors can be paired in three ways -- two dominant alleles, two recessive alleles, or a combination of both dominant and recessive. This combination would dictate how a trait showed itself in an organism.

Clever stuff, but it wasn't until the early 20th century, long after Mendel himself had popped his clogs, that his work was recognised as being incredibly important. In his own lifetime, once bored with peas, Mendel created a hybrid strain of honeybees so vicious they had to be destroyed. We'll stick a paragraph break in here to let the impressive nature of that fact sink in.

Other recent Google Doodles honour architect Sir George Gilbert Scott, St Basil's Cathedral, the Summer Solstice and a live-streaming of June's total lunar eclipse.