At last! A painting that's 100% all me. I've been wanting to paint this for... well, far longer than I've been an artist, really. I saw the potential in creating beautiful Punnett Squares back in biology class in high school. I always liked how Gregor Mendel's careful cross-breeding involved such a silly, ordinary plant (the garden pea), but represented the vast possibilities of, what would later be called the field of genetics.
Gregor Mendel took the common pea plant (pisum sativum) and meticulously bred them to calculate the likelihood of various physical traits (phenotypes) presenting in the next generation. I'll start with a roundabout explanation of how Mendel's experiments led to my illustrated punnett square.
First, Mendel would take, let's call them the grandparent generation, of two homozygous plants, one dominant presenting (BB - purple flowers) and one recessive presenting (bb - white flowers). The results would always be a new generation of heterozygous, dominant presenting (Bb - purple flowers) plants. I used this as my parent generation.
He would then take this parent generation of heterozygous, dominant presenting (Bb - purple flowers) pea plants, and crossbreed them. He discovered 75% of the time, the new generation had purple flowers, and only 25% of the time, white flowers. It was also eventually determined that the following genotypes were created: 1/4 BB, 2/4 Bb, 1/4 bb. 50% of the plants were the same homozygous alleles as the very first, grandparent generation, and 50% were exactly the same as the heterozygous parent generation!
That was all pretty dry and maybe even boring... I put some glossary terms at the end of this blog to help translate my nerdy gibberish.
If you thought that took awhile to get through, consider how long it takes to successfully breed a pea plant to flowering age. Whew! Mendel had a ton of patience. But these kinds of experiments, repeated again and again with pea plant heights, tall vs short, wrinkly vs smooth pea pods, etc, would result in Mendel being dubbed: The Father of Modern Genetics.
And what about that Punnett Square, huh? How freaking useful is that?! It was specifically designed to illustrate Mendelian Inheritance... so strictly speaking, Mendel didn't use one. But his work was explained using this illustrative technique decades after his research was published. That's right, Mendel's work didn't reach notoriety for more than three DECADES after he made it public.
In fact, his work would go largely unappreciated until 15 years after his death. " My time will come," he reportedly told a friend. " - Gregor Mendel Wiki.
I hope you enjoyed this oversimplified lesson on the birth of genetics! Just a personal passion of mine... especially when it can be illustrated so beautifully!
Allele - different variations of a gene. In my example B vs b, one being a dominant gene, the other being recessive.
Genotype - the genetic code or makeup expressing a trait in an organism. In my example, BB for homozygous dominant plant resulting in a purebred purple flower phenotype. "BB" would be the genotype.
Heterozygous - when the genotype of a trait has two different alleles: Bb (heterozygous dominant). These are sometimes referred to as crossbreeds.
Homozygous - when the genotype of a trait has two identical alleles: BB (homozygous dominant) or bb (homozygous recessive). These area sometimes referred to as "purebred".
Phenotype - a physical, observable trait of an organism. In my example, the phenotypes would be a purple or white flower.
Punnett Square - " a diagram that is used to predict an outcome of a particular cross or breeding experiment."