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Mendel studied the inheritance of seed shape first. A cross involving only one trait is referred to as a monohybrid cross. Mendel crossed pure-breeding smooth-seeded plants with a variety that had always produced wrinkled seeds (60 fertilizations on 15 plants). All resulting seeds were smooth. The following year, Mendel planted these seeds and allowed them to self-fertilize. He recovered 7324 seeds: 5474 smooth and 1850 wrinkled. To help with record keeping, generations were labeled and numbered. The parental generation is denoted as the P1 generation. The offspring of the P1 generation are the F1 generation (first filial). The self-fertilizing F1 generation produced the F2 generation (second filial).

P1: smooth X wrinkled

F1 : all smooth

F2 : 5474 smooth and 1850 wrinkled

Mendel studied seven traits which appeared in two discrete forms, rather than continuous characters which are often difficult to distinguish. When "true-breeding" tall plants were crossed with "true-breeding" short plants, all of the offspring were tall plants. The parents in the cross were the P1 generation, and the offspring represented the F1 generation. The trait referred to as tall was considered dominant, while short was recessive. Dominant traits were defined by Mendel as those which appeared in the F1 generation in crosses between true-breeding strains. Recessives were those which "skipped" a generation, being expressed only when the dominant trait is absent. Mendel's plants exhibited complete dominance, in which the phenotypic expression of alleles was either dominant or recessive, not "in between".

When members of the F1 generation were crossed, Mendel recovered mostly tall offspring, with some short ones also occurring. Upon statistically analyzing the F2 generation, Mendel determined the ratio of tall to short plants was approximately 3:1. Short plants have skipped the F1 generation, and show up in the F2 and succeeding generations. Mendel concluded that the traits under study were governed by discrete (separable) factors. The factors were inherited in pairs, with each generation having a pair of trait factors. We now refer to these trait factors as alleles. Alleles are just different versions of the same gene, like eye color. Having traits inherited in pairs allows for the observed phenomena of traits "skipping" generations.

Summary of Mendel's Results:

| Introduction to Mendel | | Monohybrid Cross | | Dihybrid Cross | | Punnett Squares |

| Mendel's Conclusions |