150 years

since publication of Mendel´s discovery

February 8 and March 8, 1865













The project Mendel´s Interactive School of Genetics (CZ.1.07/2.3.00/45.0037) is supported by the European Social Fund and state budget of the Czech Republic.



Weekend with J. G. Mendel



FRIDAY, March 6, 2015
3 pm
Round Table Discussion


4 pm
Mendel´s plants (I. Kubištová)
Commented opening of a new exhibition


5 pm
Get together

SATURDAY, March 7, 2015

9 – 9:30 am
Conference registration


9:30 – 10 am
Mendel – a multifaceted personality and a scientist in the controversy (A. Matalová)


10 – 10:30 am
Mendel and Darwin (J. Sekerák)


10:30 – 11 am
Coffee break, discussion


11:00 – 11:45 am
N. Vavilov and T. Lysenko: Initial support and final tragedy. Who is responsible? (V. Soyfer, USA)


11:45 – 12:15 am
J. G. Mendel, N. I. Vavilov and J. Lužný (P. Salaš/A. Salašová)


12:15 – 1:30 pm
Lunch, poster exhibition viewing


1:30 – 2 pm
Mendel and his scientific colleagues in Brno (A. Matalová)


2 – 2:30 pm
When time was ripe: On the “re-discovery” of Gregor Mendel´s work (J. Vollmann/H. Grausgruber, Austria)


2:30 – 3 pm
Mendelian genetics: an historical perspective and a glimpse into the future (C. M. Laukaitis, USA)


3 – 3:30 pm 
Coffee break, discussion


3:30 – 3:50 pm 
Ending the Mendel-Fisher controversy (D.J. Fairbanks/B. Palais, A.D. Fairbanks, USA)

3:50 – 4:10 pm
Mendel and bioinformatics (P. Ošmera)


4:10 – 4:30 pm

From domestication to Mendel or from Mendel to domestication? (P. Hořín)


4:30 - 5 pm

Coffee break, discussion


5 pm

Mendel´s footsteps in Brno (E. Matalová)

A walk through Mendel´s Brno


SUNDAY, March 8, 2015


9 – 9:30 am

150 years ago … Brno in Mendel´s time (P. Kroupa)


9:30 – 10:30 am

Echoes of March 8, 1865 (J. Klein, USA)


10:30 – 11 am

Coffee break, discussion


11 am - onwards

Inauguration of Centrum Mendelianum

  • Greeting Addresses (M. Reissner et al.)
  • Concept of the Centre (E. Matalová)
  • Solitude of a Humble Genius (J. Klein, USA)

A new expert book about Mendel

Guided tours in the Centre, exhibition viewing, discussion, presentation of Mendel´s Interactive School of Genetics


Mendel´s Plants

Anna Matalová, Iva Kubištová

Mendelianum, Moravian Museum; Gymnasium of Cpt. Jaroš, Brno, CR, matalova@iach.cz

Mendel's portrait with a fuchsia flower in his hand is a cut out
from a group photo of the Augustinians from the early sixties of the 19th century. The experiments with artificial pollination of fuchsias in order to obtain new varieties Mendel himself did not mention, but an account of them is given in the publication The history of Moravian fruit growing, viticulture and horticulture, which was published in 1898 in Brno.

When we think about Mendel´s motivation to experiments with peas, this was certainly primarily driven from J. Tvrdý (1806-1883), an internationally reputable gardener-breeder.


As far back as in 1839, Tvrdý won a prize of the Agricultural society for the breeding of new productive varieties of currants through the method of artificial pollination.

In the sixties, Tvrdý was known for his breeding of fuchsias, where he reached significant results. His bred novelties could not be missed in any chateau collections of flowers on European mansions.

Tvrdý named one of his new varieties of fuchsia after his friend Mendel. Two other new cultivars were named after the giants of science of that period, Galileo and Humboldt

We recall Tvrdý´s collegiality with Mendel when we look at Mendel with the fuchsia flower in hand, and when we read the first paragraph of Mendel's discovery work, in which he admits that "The impetus to start experiments, that should be discussed herein, was the artificial fertilization of ornamental plants to acquire new colour variations. The striking regularity with which the same hybrid forms always returned after the fertilization between the same species, gave the impetus to further experiments that should follow the development of hybrids in their progenies."

The exhibition “Mendel´s plants” presents the genera of plants that were used by Mendel in his experiments, the genera of plants that he intended to deal with, or that were mentioned by him in scientific correspondence. This list which is based on primary sources, encompasses almost thirty plant genera and was first published by Mendelianum MZM Brno in 2008 (Matalová A 2008: G. Mendel - Experiments with plant hybrids. ISBN 9788087028025

Mendelianum presented Mendel´s Plants since its opening in 1965, first in the monastic garden in Old Brno (1965-2000), then in the temporary residence in the house of ombudsman (2001-2007) and now in the Centrum Mendelianum.


Plants that were used by Mendel in his key experiments

Pisum – pea plant

The lecture On experiments with plant hybrids (Versuche über Pflanzen-Hybriden) Mendel presented within two meetings of the Natural Science Association in 1865, and the lecture was published a year later in the Association magazine “Verhandlungen des naturforschenden Vereins in Brünn” (Negotiations of the Natural Science Association in Brno).

Mendel´s lecture in 1865 aimed to raise interest in the repeat of his experiments.

In the epilogue of his work, Mendel stated that he had began several experiments to determine whether the evolutionary line for the progeny of pea plant hybrids

A + 2Aa + a

also applies also to progenies from hybrids of other plants. In the first place, Mendel studied plants on the stability of genes/traits through self-pollination.

From 34 different varieties of peas, 22 varieties showed stability, which Mendel observed for two years. It is interesting that Mendel did not include this two-year period of preparation into the experiments. He stated that they had lasted only eight years.


As a physicist, Mendel created exactly defined initial trait pairs in which he tested via artificial pollinations the behaviour of different shapes and colours of plants.

The diagnosis related to various traits of the plant, not the organism as a whole. Mendel marked genes for traits by means of letters; the dominating traits were marked with capital letters, the recessive traits with small letters.

During the formation of a hybrid, two different genes Aa are integrated in a cell.

Progenies from hybrids in which multiple different genes for traits are integrated, e.g. Aa, Bb, Cc, represent members of a combination development which contains simple developments for each pair of different traits, which acts independently of other differences in the stem plants.

It follows from this that the generation of hybrids Aa, is uniform, but its progenies vary. The genes for traits are transferred but not the traits.

Hieracium – Hawkweed

Mendel´s work on hawkweed is associated with the name Nägeli. Nägeli´s studies on hawkweeds achieved considerable response in terms of the stability of plant forms. At the end of 1866, therefore, Mendel sent him an imprint of his work on hybrids of pea plants. Historians of science sometimes blame Nägeli for the fact that he directed Mendel on to the research area of hawkweeds, which did not confirm the conclusions valid for the pea plants.


However, it results from the correspondence that Mendel himself selected hawkweeds for his further experiments.

The lecture on some hybrids of hawkweed from the artificial fertilization was presented by Mendel in the Natural Science Association in 1869, and said lecture was published in the Association magazine in 1870.

Plants that Mendel used in subsequent experiments

Antirrhinum- Snapdragon

Aquilegia - Columbine

Calceolaria – Slipperwort

Cirsium – Common thistle

Dianthus – Clove Carnation

Geum - Avens

Ipomoea – Morning-Glory

Lathyrus - Ers

Linaria - Brideweed

Matthiola - Gillyflower, Cheiranthus – English Wallflower

Melandrium (Lychnis, Silene) - Campion

Mirabilis – Four o´clock

Phaseolus – Bean plant

Tropaeolum - Nasturtium

Verbascum - Mullein

Zea – Maize


Plants, that Mendel intended to deal with

Carex - Sedge

Potentilla - Cinquefoil

Veronica - Speedwell

Viola - Violet

Plants, mentioned by Mendel in scientific correspondence

Lavatera – Mallow

Lens - Lentil

Malva - Mallow

Nicotiana – Tobacco plant

Oenothera - Evening-primrose

Salix – Willow Tree


The new exhibition introduces not only the unique collection of Mendel´s plants but also explains why the particular genera were selected, what were the expectation, experience and results commented by Mendel. 


Mendel as a multifaceted personality and a scientist in the controversy

Anna Matalová

Mendelianum, Moravian Museum; Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics, CAS, v.v.i., Brno, CR, matalova@iach.cz


As far as we know Mendel composed two CVs. One, written in his hand, was appended to his application for the certificate of proficiency in teaching dated 1850. The other was signed with a monogram MG and dated 1875 and placed as ceiling paintings of Mendel´ s official reception room, in the library representative room and the third in the small reception room. In medallions Mendel shows important activities of his life.

In the great reception room Mendel chose the activities of the Agriculture Society – agriculture, fruit tree improvement, beekeeping and meteorology. The ceiling painting devoted to fruit tree breeding may show Mendel´s father and the local priest Schreiber grafting fruit trees in Mendel´s birthplace with the church in Vražné in the background. In the painting dedicated to meteorology there are shown meteorological instruments, ships and geographical maps symbolizing Humboldtian science. Some instruments may be attributed to the influence of free masons in the real school. In the beehive painting the counterpoint of the old straw beehive and the new Dzierzon double hive symbolize the progress in the improvement of the bee. In the symbol of agriculture Mendel shows St. Isidor, the patron of the peasants.

The library ceiling paintings are also connected with the activities of the Agriculture Society. Moravian gardeners were known for the hybridizing of flowers that instigated Mendel in his experiments with plant hybrids.


Mendel was famous for organizing flower exhibitions. Many flowers were grown in the monastic garden for display. As a chairman of the exhibition jury Mendel offered prizes for exquisite collections. Gardener Tvrdý was often the winner. He published new varieties of ornamental plants in German specialized price lists. He was famous for breeding fuchsias and gave them the names of scientists as Humboldt, Galilei or Praelat Mendel. Gardener Molisch, whom Mendel used to visit in his glasshouse was breeding fruit trees and grape vine seedlings. More than 500 fruit trees of apples, pears, appricots and prunes were grown for sale in the monastic garden by Mendel. In the last year of his life Mendel was awarded Hietzing medal for his fruit trees.

The ceiling paintings in the great reception room survived only in photograph, the paintings in the library still exist in their original place and the small reception room painted in Greek style was not documented.

Controversies are accompanying Mendel up to this day. The rediscovery in 1900was a complicated process, the unveiling of Mendel´s monument in 1910 was marked with the clash of ideas between Mendel the free thinker and the representatives of the town, 1922 birthday anniversary German Czech attitude became pronounced after the end of World War One. The Second World War was destructive to the two Brno museums. After the Second World War Red tsunami put an end not only to Mendel but all genetics as a bourgeois pseudoscience. Fortunately Watson-Crick Nobel price marked a new beginning in the pro Soviet countries.


Mendel and Darwin

Jiří Sekerák

Mendelianum, Moravian Museum, Brno, CR, jsekerak@mzm.cz


At the time when Mendel published his work On Experiments with Plant Hybrids, biologists had already started collecting data for Darwin’s concept of adaptation and its hereditary fixation which had a different if not even contradictory framework to Mendel’s theory. But Mendel knew that his model of the arrangement of elements would have an essential impact on our knowledge concerning the evolution of life. Regarding his experiments he stated that: …this seems to be the one correct way of finally reaching the solution to a question whose significance for the evolutionary history of organic forms must not be underestimated. This is also behind the ensuing difference in the approach to explaining the processes of evolution. For Darwin the approach to the problem of study of evolution was narrowed down to explaining the causes of the change in organisms, i.e. how and why the adaptive change happened: The organism is approached as an object which, from time to time, becomes the focus of the active process of change, while the period of simple reproduction does not require any activity – it is only passive duration – an intermediate period between evolutionary changes that are at the centre of interest.

For Mendel’s approach to the problem of evolution the situation is reversed. The substrate here is the starting point of permanent change, which does not need further explanations, being omnipresent, continual and basically unpredictable. What does deserve attention is the explanation of the existence of apparently “simple” duration, clarification of the


remarkable and mysterious phenomenon of the reproduction of identity - reproduction of the unique organisms in the general and unending superflow of change.


N. Vavilov and T. Lysenko: Initial support and final tragedy. Who is responsible?

Valery Soyfer

George Mason University, USA, vnsoyfer@gmu.edu


When in 1928-1929 Stalin launched totalitarian collectivization of agriculture in the USSR when all peasants were forced to unite all their households and lands into collective farms (kolkhozes), the productivity of agriculture sharply declined.

At this time, the unknown Ukrainian agronomist, Trophim Lysenko, announced that he is able to transform a winter wheat into a spring wheat through cold treatment or vernalization of seedlings. Nikolai Vavilov invited him in January 1929 to deliver a presentation about his scientific results at the 2nd USSR Congress of Geneticists and Breeders. A couple months later Lysenko declared that with the help of vernalization it would be possible to produce a 30 per cent higher yield of wheat. In spite of the absense of scientific proof of the validity of his claim, the central Soviet newspapers publicized in 1929 Lysenko's promises as the obvious success of the new Soviet agricultural policy. He was presented as a hero of Stalinist science. Until 1934, Lysenko repeated many times that his vernalization does not contradict the laws of genetics, but rigorous scientific analysis showed that vernalization does not give positive results.


Vavilov initially was inspired by Lysenko's success and suggested to promote the agronomist in the Soviet scientific community: to award him with the Lenin state prize, to elect him as a Corresponding Member of the USSR Academy of Sciences, then as a Full member of the Academy. All these suggestions by Vavilov were rejected by scientists.

Nevertheless, Lysenko was supported by several key figures from Stalin's circle, and, in 1934, Lysenko was elected as a Full Member of the All-Ukrainian Academy of Sciences.

In 1935, Stalin in the Kremlin publicly praised Lysenko when the latter in his speech accused the scientists of sabotage against his "New Socialist science of kolkhoses and Sovkhoses." In the same 1935, Lysenko was appointed by the Soviet government as a Full Member of the Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences (VASKhNIL). Vavilov, who was the founder and the first President of this Academy was dismissed from his presidency. Since these times, Lysenko began to characterize genetics as an alien bourgeous discipline. The struggle against genetics had been launched by Lysenkoists and, in 1948, Stalin finaly ordered to completely forbid genetic research in the country. Vavilov gradually recognised his mistake in promoting Lysenko and sharply criticised his previous protégé, but it was too late. In 1940, Vavilov was arrested as a spy, a saboteir and an antagonist of Lysenko and died in a prison in 1942 from hunger.

In this talk, the data will be presented which show that Joseph Stalin taught Lysenko that genetics is a wrong science and, therefore, Stalin is responsible for this antiscientific trend in the Soviet Union and in the countries of the Soviet bloc.


N. I. Vavilov, J. G. Mendel and J. Lužný

Petr Salaš, Alena Salašová, Ladislav Rygl

Faculty of Horticulture Mendel University in Brno, CR, salaspetr@gmail.com


Nikolai Ivanovich Vavilov (1887-1943) was a world-famous Russian scientist, geneticist, breeder and botanist whose name has been immortally written in the history of breeding and genetics of agricultural crops. Vavilov highly recognized Johann Gregor Mendel (1822-1884) as the founder of modern genetics, and the Mendel´s work also constitutes the background of his research.

This is the very reason, why N.I. Vavilov valued so much the honour with which he was complimented in Brno, the city where J. G. Mendel lived and worked. On June 19, 1936, N. I. Vavilov, together with Erich Tschermak von Seysenegg from the University of Vienna and Ernst Laur, professor at the University of Zurich, were conferred on the campus of the University of Agriculture in Brno (now the Mendel University in Brno) the degree of the honorary doctor (Doctor honoris causa). The Brno honorary doctorate was the first award of this kind granted to N.I. Vavilov abroad.

Principles of heredity, which were first described by J. G. Mendel, the definition of gene centres in the plant evolution on Earth by N.I. Vavilov, together with his formulation of the law of homologous series of the hereditary stability, belong today to the basic pillars of the contemporary modern breeding.

The scientific heritage of J. G. Mendel and N. I. Vavilov was followed via the lifelong activity of the Professor Emeritus of the present Mendel University in Brno, Jan Lužný (1926-2013).


In the 60s of the 20th century, he became the first associate professor for the university course of breeding, reproduction and special genetics of horticultural plants in the former Czechoslovak Republic, and he was actively developing this area for more than 50 years.

He created the foundations of a modern breeding of horticultural crops and as a teacher of the present Horticultural Faculty of the Mendel University in Brno educated numerous successful breeders. He was engaged in many breeding and scientific councils of various institutions. He also bred several novel varieties. In 2006, in recognition of his lifelong work in the area of genetics and breeding, the prestigious medal of J.G. Mendel (the medal is awarded by the Mendelianum of the Moravian Museum in Brno) was awarded to him. To commemorate the breeding activity of Professor Lužný, his name was also given to a novel semi-cactus-type dahlia cultivar with a delicate pink white flower.

Together with his assistants, Professor Lužný has created in the past few years a documentary film, mapping the life path of N.I. Vavilov and his relationship to J.G. Mendel and the city of Brno. The film is called Mendel, Vavilov and Brno and was premiered at the International Festival Agrofilm Nitra 2014, where it won one of the prizes – Award of the Slovak Public Radio and Television. The film is freely accessible online on YouTube, hitherto in the Czech version only. The presentation of the film in English during the event Weekend with J.G. Mendel will thus be a premiere.


Mendel Mendel and his scientific colleagues in Brno

Anna Matalová

Mendelianum, Moravian Museum; Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics, CAS, v.v.i., Brno, CR, matalova@aich.cz


Mendel´s scientific collegium includes the personalities with which Mendel was in direct professional contact, and which could have an impact on him in terms of a scientific research. An important member of Mendel´s Council is Professor František Dieblich from which Mendel obtained a certificate in the field of agriculture, fruit growing and viticulture. The certificate from these fields was an important qualification for Mendel both for his teaching career and his professional activity in the Agricultural Society. The Agricultural Society founded in 1817 the Francis Museum, now the Moravian Municipal Museum. Another person from Mendel´s circle is Alexander Zawadzki, who engaged Mendel in the natural science section of the Agricultural Society. Alexander Zawadzki was an eminent physicist, botanist and Mendel's colleague from the grammar school.

In an environment of the Agricultural Society, Mendel had information about the research of hybrid plants from Jan Tvrdý, Hans Molisch and Gustav Niessl who monitored this issue, procured live specimens of hybrids for the lecture meetings and published the results of their research in the specialized literature. The study of variation and selection in the spirit of Darwin belonged to the research field of Mendel´s friend Matouš Klácel, who bequeathed his monastery experimental garden to Mendel.


Mendel´s monastic brother Tomáš Bratránek explicated in his reflections on the plant aesthetics the ideas about the development of nature as a living organism in the dynamic conception of German natural philosophy. From Pavel Olexík, Mendel obtained meteorological observations and some meteorological instruments. Alexander Makowsky, professor of natural science at the Technical University in Brno, reported in the Brno press about Mendel´s lecture in 1865 and, thanks to him, we now know how Mendel´s disclosure of his discovery was accepted. In the Agricultural Society, Mendel cooperated with an apiarist František Živanský who correctly anticipated that Mendel could not be successful in his hybridization experiments with bees. A. Tomasek reported on Mendel´s acclimatization experiments with a bee Trigona lineata in German and Russian scientific journals. Our Brno circle of Mendel's colleagues in the scientific environment concludes J. Liznar, professor of meteorology who visited Mendel in the Old Brno monastery and published Mendel´s measurements on the status of ground water in the monastery well. Individual personalities and their relationship to Mendel give an insight into the ideological context of Mendel's scientific work, the focus of which was in the scholarly Agricultural Society that is in Otto's educational vocabulary marked as the Moravian Academy of Sciences, which supported science, research and education.


When time was ripe: On the “re-discovery” of Gregor Mendel´s work

Johann Vollmann, Heinrich Grausgruber

Gregor Mendel Society Vienna; University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU), Tulln, Austria, johann.vollmann@boku.ac.at


It is one of the popular myths of science: Following his hybridization experiments, Gregor Mendel published the laws of genetics in 1866, but his discovery remained unknown until the year 1900 when three botanists “re-discovered” Mendel’s work in an independent manner. This commonly known statement is flawed in several respects: i. Mendel’s paper of 1866 had been cited over ten times before the year 1900 when it was formally “re-discovered”, so it obviously has been known within the scientific community of the late 19th century, ii. observations similar to the ones described by Gregor Mendel were made by several experimenters within the context of plant breeding, and iii. the three “re-discoverers”of 1900 were neither independent of Gregor Mendel nor of each other.

The citation of Gregor Mendel’s work by German botanists Hoffmann (1869) and Focke (1881) are most prominent in the scientific literature, although both of them did not appreciate the relevance of the paper. In contrast, the Russian botanist I. Schmalhausen fully understood the work of Mendel and explained its major results in his master thesis presented to Petersburg university as early as 1874.

The experimental results of Carl Correns, Hugo de Vries and Erich Tschermak all published in 1900 are marking the period of “re-discovery”of Gregor Mendel’s work. However, other researcher described similar results without knowing Gregor Mendel significantly before or around the year 1900.


Mendelian genetics: an historical perspective and a glimpse into the future

Christina M. Laukaitis

Center for Applied Genetics and Genomic Medicine, University of Arizona, USA, CLaukaitis@uacc.arizona.edu


After the ‘rediscovery’ of Mendel’s work in 1900, physicians and scientists began to recognize that Mendel’s principles also applied to human beings. In 1900, Landsteiner discovered the ABO blood group system and in 1902 Garrod described alkaptonuria, the first recognized inborn error of metabolism. Since that time, hundreds of human genetic diseases have been described and the field of human medical genetics has become well-established. Indeed, a recognizable disease caused by the malfunction of a single gene will be diagnosed in about 5% of the population and each year thousands seek testing for genetic conditions. Advances in understanding the genetic basis of inheritance in model organisms and the completion of the human genome sequence have allowed us to move beyond single gene disorders to begin to unravel how complex interactions between genetic and environmental factors influence human health. These studies have also made possible effective new treatments for once devastating diseases.


The Mendel-Fisher Controversy in Light of Binomial Probability

Daniel J. Fairbanks, Bob Palais, Aaron D. Fairbanks

Department of Biology and Department of Mathematics, Utah Valley University, USA, danie.fairbanks@uvu.edu


Coincident with the rediscovery of Mendel’s article, “Versuche über Pflanzen Hybriden,” in 1900, Karl Pearson published the chi-square goodness-of-fit test. W. F. R. Weldon was the first to apply this test to Mendel’s data in 1902, and he pointed out the exceptionally high concordance of Mendel’s observations with theory. As Allan Franklin noted, “This was one of the early uses, perhaps even the first use, of the chi-square test.” The most extensive analysis of Mendel’s data appeared in 1936 when Ronald Fisher subjected essentially all of Mendel’s reported observations to chi-square analysis. He famously noted what he called “a serious and almost inexplicable discrepancy,” and concluded that chi-square analysis provided evidence that “the data of most, if not all, of the experiments have been falsified so as to agree with Mendel’s expectation.” The decades-long dispute generated by Fisher’s paper that Mendel’s data were so close to expectation as to call into question their validity is known as the Mendel-Fisher controversy. Often left unsaid, however, is the fact that the chi-square test has potentially serious shortcomings and inaccuracies. An alternative test that overcomes all shortcomings, and yields accurate and exact probabilities for hypothesis testing, is probability summation, defined as the summation of probabilities for all possible combinations whose deviations from expected proportions equal or exceed the deviation for the observed combination.


Probability summation is straightforward and simple when sample sizes are small, but rapidly reaches insurmountable mathematical overflow as sample sizes increase.

However, we have shown mathematically that numerical overflow can be overcome by logarithmic transformations, which make analysis of experiments with large sample sizes (including all of Mendel’s experiments) manageable through computer analysis. We have devised a web-based calculator that compares chi-square analysis to probability summation for experimental data that is currently available online at https://www.dna.utah.edu/lnfac/lnfac.html

When applied to Mendel’s data, probability summation results in higher probabilities than chi-square analysis in every case, demonstrating that in the aggregate Mendel’s data are even closer to expectation than determined by Fisher. Superficially it may appear that this result strengthens the case for allegations of data falsification. The reverse is true, however, for the set of experiments that Fisher found most problematic: Mendel’s F 3 progeny tests for genotypic classification of F 2 plants in which Fisher found Mendel’s data to be too close to an incorrect expectation. In this set of experiments, probability summation shows that chi-square analysis considerably overestimates how close the data are to the incorrect expectation. In the end, particularly when statistical, botanical, and historical evidence are examined together, there is little reason to question the legitimacy of Mendel’s data.


Mendel and Bioinformatics

Pavel Ošmera

Institute of Automation and Computer Science, Brno University of Technology, Brno, Czech Republic, osmera@fme.vutbr.cz


We are trying to piece together the knowledge of evolution with the help of biology, informatics and physics to create a complex evolutionary structure. It can speed up the creation of optimization algorithms with high quality features. The role of Darwinian selection process, Mendelians genetics, Lamarckian inheritance, Baldwin effect and Dawkins theory of memes are very important. All results of integrated evolution are kept in four different memories. It is impossible to describe all problems only by Mendel or Darwin or Lamarck or Baldwin or Dawkins; only all these theories together can cover the evolution on the whole.

The essence of Mendelian inheritance is that information carried on chromosomes is partioned with great precision during meiosis. Gregor Mendel accurately observed patterns of inheritance and proposed a mechanism to account for some of the patterns. We would like to continue in Mendel’s discoveries and we can use it in evolutionary optimization.


From domestication to Mendel or from Mendel to domestication?

Petr Hořín

Department of Animal Genetics, RG Animal Immunogenomics, Ceitec,

University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, CR, phorin@vfu.cz


The term Neolithic Revolution reflects the crucial importance of domestication of plants and animals for human history, including the development of culture and civilization. Charles Darwin began his Origin of Species with a chapter entitled Variation under Domestication and he used domesticated species as examples of his theory. Domestication is considered to be a unique form of biological evolution and therefore an excellent model for evolutionary biology. Due to their high phenotypic diversity, domestic animals are unique models for studying genotype–phenotype relationships.

The domestication of crops and animals can be considered as a genetic experiment changing the frequency of mutations affecting selected phenotypic traits. Archeological findings showed that human ancestors were able to unintentionally select and fix specific traits. The first breeders became aware of the importance of parentage (“blood”) for improvement of production traits and understood that this improvement can be achieved by crossing animals with desirable traits. However, this effect seemed to them to be only temporary. This opinion began to change in the late 18th century with success stories in this field, among others, in sheep breeding. Mendel started studying the process of inheritance in plants in Brno, a center of wool industry, in an environment curious about inheritance of important traits in domestic animals.


The rediscovery of Mendel’s principles in 1900 and the reconciliation of Mendelian inheritance with Darwinian natural selection represented an incentive to use genetical knowledge for intentional crop and animal breeding. Breeding of domestic animals in the 20th century was based on two approaches. Methods based on genetics of quantitative traits were mostly used for improving production traits, while the knowledge of Mendelian inheritance was used for influencing specific qualitative traits. The discovery of the structure of DNA provided the basis of molecular genetics and later allowed application of molecular techniques in both plant and animal breeding. The theory and practice of breeding were integrated and breeding became scientifically based.

An important breakthrough in the history of breeding occurred with the advent of holistic approaches in biology and medicine. Quantitative trait locus mapping, genome-wide association studies and whole-genome resequencing studies did not lead only to identification of genes underlying production and other economically important complex traits, but they also allowed identification of signatures of selection and changes associated with domestication and subsequent diversification of plants and animals. Analyses of ancient genomes allowed reconstructing genetic changes that transformed wild animals into their domesticated forms and revealed important information about human – animal – plant – microbe interactions.

Domestic animals and plants represent not only informative biological models but they also bear evidence of creativity, intuition and ingenuity of our ancestors, like other artworks. By providing evidence about its principles, Mendel has certainly contributed to the Art of Breeding.


Mendel´s Footsteps in Brno

Eva Matalová

Mendelianum, Moravian Museum; Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics, CAS, v.v.i., Brno, CR, matalova@iach.cz


Tradition of walks through Mendel´s Brno organized by Mendelianum was supported by publication Mendelovo Brno in 2012 and Path through Mendel´s Brno in 3 languages will be issued for holidays 2015.

Mendel´s Footsteps in Brno include:

  1. The Bishop Court became the Moravian Museum and the seat of the AgriCulture Association with its many scientific sections in 1817. Mendel profited most from the gardening section.
  2. The Dietrichstein Palace of the Moravian Museum with its memorial hall showing plaques of the chief figures of the AgriCulture Association as founders of the Moravian Museum.
  3. The Reduta Theatre where exhibits of flowers, fruit and vegetable were organized by Mendel´s Section of Pomiculture, Viniculture and Horticulture of the AgriCulture Association.
  4. The Institute of Philosophy at the Minorite Monastery where Mendel studied agriculture, pomiculture and viniculture in 1846.
  5. The building of the Modern High School in Brno where Mendel lectured physics and natural science 1854-1868 and published his discovery in 1865 in the Nature Research Society meetings.
  6. The memorial plaques of the former Mortgage Bank honouring Mendel as its Director General.
  1. The original seat of the Augustinian Order St. Thomas to 1782.
  2. The building of the former Moravian Diet where the premises of the Mortgage Bank were situated from 1878. Mendel was working there as vice-director and from 1881 as Director General till the end of his life.
  3. The building of the former Technical College where the meetings of the Nature Research Society were held over which Mendel often presided in his position of society´s vice-chairman.
  4. The New Town Hall as a centre of cultural events and presentations of the AgriCulture Association activities in which Mendel took part as a member of its Central Board.
  5. The Institute of Theology at the Dominican Monastery where Mendel studied 1844-1848. In St Michael church he was ordained priest on August 15, 1847 and celebrated his first mass.
  6. The Urban Centre where the office and the library of the Nature Research Society were housed after1870.
  7. St. Ann Hospital where Mendel proved unsuccessful in his pastoral service but achieved the support of the hospital director in ornamental plant breeding and meteorology.
  8. The former Cistercian Nunnary, since 1783 the seat of the Augustinian Order. Mendel lived there 1843-1884. The Basilica of the Assumption of the Virgin and the adjoining prelate quarters of Gregor Mendel 1868-1884.
  9. The Central Cemetery where Mendel was buried in the vault of the Old Brno Augustinian friars on January 9, 1884.
  1. Garden pavilion in the Lužánky Park where annual exhibitions of Mendel´s section for pomiculture, viniculture and horticulture were held. Mendel was active as organizer, member of the judging committee and exhibitor. He was certified as examiner in fruit tree growing.

150 years ago … Brno in Mendel´s time

Petr Kroupa

National Heritage Institute, Brno, CR, kroupa.petr@npu.cz


Echos of March 8, 1865

Jan Klein

Department of Biology, The Pennsylvania State University, USA, juk9@psu.edu


The date is that of the second of the two lectures Mendel delivered at Brno, describing the results of his eight-year-long hybridization experiment with garden pea, Pisum sativum. This event, celebrated by the Mendel Forum 2015, is the milestone in the history of biology, marking the emergence of the science of genetics. At the conclusion of the three-day celebration, I shall, first, attempt to reconstruct the event from the few facts available to us about it. And then address three fundamental but controversial questions concerning the experiment: First, what was Mendel’s aim of the experiment? Second, what was his design (plan) of the experiment? And third, what conclusions and implications did he draw from the experiment? Specifically, I shall contrast the traditional and the post-modern interpretations of Mendel and come largely on the side of the former.


Inauguration of Centrum Mendelianum

Centrum Mendelianum – milestones


  • 1962: Foundation of Gregor Mendel Genetic Department in the framework of the Moravian Museum
  • 1965: opening the Mendelianum developed by G. Mendel Genetic Department of the Moravian Museum
  • 2012: 50 years of continuous systematic activities in the area of research and promotion of Mendel's scientific and cultural heritage both in this country and at the international level






  • 2012-2014: complementation of the scientific centre by the visitor centre Mendelianum – an attractive world of genetics
  • 2012-2014: consolidation of the Mendel Expert Team, partners and collaborators
  • 2014-2015: complementation by the Mendel nteractive School of Genetics
  • 2014-2015: realization of the Mendel year of entertaining learning
  • 8. 3. 2015: inauguration of the complex Centrum Mendelianum as a unique base that integrates scientific, research, training and popularizing aspects



Current Concept


J. G. Mendel was a versatile personality - a physicist, naturalist, teacher in real subjects, researcher and experimenter, promoter of public education, meteorologist and bank manager paving the way to literacy. It was through his scientific achievement that he became world famous.

The Agricultural Society was substituting the Moravian Academy of Sciences and founded the Moravian museum in 1817. The Agriculture Society gathered experts from forestry, agriculture, horticulture, viticulture, pomology, meteorology, sheep breeding, beekeeping and statistics. Mendel actively worked here from 1851 until his death in 1884. The Moravian Museum is the only scientific institution in the world directly continuing research into natural sciences constituted by Mendel and his colleagues and their predecessors.

The original Mendelianum of the Moravian Museum in the Augustinian Monastery in Old Brno was founded by Gregor Mendel Genetic Department of the Moravian Museum. It was established shortly after the Nobel Prize Award for the discovery of the DNA structure to Watson and Crick. First, it was a memorial to Gregor Mendel the discoverer. On the occasion of the fifty-year anniversary of its activities, the Mendelianum in cooperation with Mendelian scholars and geneticists made a proposal for an innovated Centrum Mendelianum (Mendelianum Centre, henceforth the MCentre), run as a living museum of a modern conception. In 1965 Gregor Mendel Department in cooperation with foreign institutions organized an exhibit about the achievements of western genetics after many years of repudiaton of genetics in Czechoslovakia and other proSoviet countries.


Since 2012, the MCentre has been located in the authentic premises of Mendel´s Agricultural Society housed in the former Bishop's residence in the historical heart of Brno, where Mendel found motivation for his research on plant hybrids among the gardeners performing plant hybridization in the Agricultural Society.

The aim of the MCentre is to provide a complex modern base built-up upon solid historical foundations and open to both professionals and the general public. The MCentre integrates scientific, training and popularising aspects.

The conception of the MCentre is supported by three pillars:

  • Mendel´s scientific centre
  • Mendel's visitor centre
  • Mendel´s interactive school

The comprehensive MCentre will be inaugurated on March 8, 2015, on the occasion of the anniversary of 150 years since the publication of Mendel's discovery paper in Brno and of 50 years since Mendelianum opening.


Centrum Mendelianum is located in the historical Bishop Court residence acquired by the Agriculture Society for the museum of the Moravia country in 1817. It is accessible from Zelný trh (Cabbage Market) or from Muzejní Street through Kapucínské náměstí (Capucchine Square).




The Scientific Centre is based on the tradition of a continual research of the scientific and cultural heritage of J. G. Mendel carried out since 1962 by the Gregor Mendel Genetic Department of the Moravian Museum founded by the Czechoslovak Academy of Science. The Mendelianum is hitherto the only body dealing with a systematic research into the scientific and cultural heritage of J. G. Mendel.The workplace of the Mendelianum had been since 1965 until 2000 located in the premises of the Augustinian monastery in Old Brno, after the notice in 2000 it developed temporarily its activities (writing books and realizing exposition on Genetics and Evolution) in the ground floor of the Ombudsman seat on Obilní trh till 2005. Now it is situated in the premises of the former Agriculture Society and its Moravian museum, the rooms where Mendel´s discussion on hybrids in the Scientific Agricultural Society took place.

The activity within the framework of MCentre of science includes:

  • Collection files are collected, classified, stored and displayed concerning Gregor Mendel´s biography and the scientific context of his discovery, said documentation being created by researchers from here and abroad into Mendel´s heritage since the beginning of the 20th Century.
  • Folia Mendeliana: the only international specialized historical-scientific reviewed journal with the research results on Mendel's life and reports on the origin and early development of genetics.
  • Mendel Forum: conferences organized yearly since 1992 for professionals, later expanded to include a space for meetings of scientists, teachers, students and the general public.
  • Mendel Medal: annual unique appreciation of internationally prominent personality for his/her contribution to the development of the scientific and cultural heritage of J. G. Mendel and genetics.
  • Mendel Lecture: since 1992, it represents a significant opportunity for scientists to present their research within the framework of the takeover of the Mendel Memorial medal of the Moravian Museum.
  • Mendel´s native house: cooperation in the foundation of the historical trust house of Mendel´s parents, its reconstruction, preparation of exhibitions, excursions, together with a long-term cooperation in the evaluation of the students´ competition taking place in Mendel´s Hynčice for talented secondary school students.
  • Mendel Brno: since 2001, organization of occasional strolls around Mendel´s Brno with an expert commentary, complemented by short-term exhibitions, publications and other activities.
  • Exhibitions and expositions: a long-term tradition of professional and popular science exhibitions. Mendelianum (Mendlovo náměstí) – 1965 - 2000, Mendelianum (Údolní Street) – 2001 - 2006, Mendelianum (Biskupský dvůr) – since 2012.
  • Professional publications: in addition to papers published in Folia Mendeliana and other international journals, this section includes the issue of professional and popular scientific publications (Gregor Johann Mendel, Genetics Behind the Iron Curtain, Mendel in a Black Box, Experiments on Plant Hybrids, Mendel´s Brno and many others).
  • Other activities: lectures, seminars, excursions, popularization activities, film and interactive materials, websites, etc., etc.



The Mendelianum Visitor Centre – the attractive world of genetics (CZ. 1.05/3.2.00/09.0180) is based on the genius loci of J. G. Mendel. For this reason, the MCentre is situated directly in the rooms of the former Moravian-Silesian Society for Development of Agriculture, Natural Sciences and National History (Agricultural Society) in a historic building of the Bishop´s Court, in which Mendel worked from 1851 until his death in 1884.

At the Visitor Centre, the scientific heritage of JGM is introduced on a historical-scientific basis, together with its linkage with modern genetics and molecular biology.

The visitor centre presents a modern form of a living museum, which includes laboratories and other interactive elements that enable an active involvement of visitors in science and research.

We do not want to present Mendel in a golden heavy frame, but as a living original thinker.

The basic parts of the Visitor Centre consist of:

  • Introductive section: From the genetic program to its implementation
  • Molecular-biological laboratory: The desire to explore and discover
  • Genetic stories on the background of Nobel Prizes: Mendel in the concept of today's science
  • Historic hall and modern science: A counterpoint of old and new
  • Conference Hall: the place where Mendel was meeting his hybridizing colleagues and gathered motivation for his experiments
  • Mendel's laboratory: disclosure what Mendel knew and what he couldn't know
  • Scientific milieu of Mendel´s discovery: A trip to Mendel´s epoch
  • Mendel´s experimental plants: Mendel's verification of his discoveries
  • Mendel´s Brno: Walking in the footsteps of J. G. Mendel in Brno

The passage through the Visitor Centre starts in the cell nucleus, where DNA replication and translation take place. From here, the visitor moves by a lift along with mRNA into the cytoplasm to ribosomes, where the translation and synthesis of proteins take place. After the acquaintance with the gene expression, methods of operation with nucleic acids are presented to visitors in a modern laboratory, and the visitor can try these methods by her/himself. Another part of the MCentre presents the workplaces in Brno, in which the research in the field of molecular biology and genetics is carried out. The thinking path continues through the discoveries at the international level presented on the background of the Nobel Prizes.

Mendel´s scientific heritage is presented in a conference hall of the Agricultural Society, in an authentic discussion room of Mendel´s scientific society. The idea of Mendel´s key scientific discovery is presented in the context of his epoch as well as of today's knowledge. For the first time Mendel´s colleagues working on fertilization and reproduction are presented. Visitors can themselves experience Mendel's scientific work in Mendel's laboratory, which offers models of pea flowers, instruments for controlled pollination and the techniques used by Mendel.

From spring through autumn, a terrace is open offering a closer acquaintance with Mendel´s experimental plants.


From the MCentre, visitors are routed towards sightseeing other places, where Mendel lived or worked in Brno, not only as a scientist but also as a teacher, parochial coordinator, prelate, or a banker. A map showing these locations urges to an individual walk in the footsteps of J. G. Mendel in Brno.

The MCentre also includes temporary exhibitions and a range of interactive elements to facilitate the understanding of both historical and the present discoveries, methods, and other information.







The ideal premise for popularization and dissemination of results of science and research is cohesion of aspects of scientists, teachers, and students and their interaction. A scientist should have not only a thorough knowledge of the field, but also an aptitude to explain it at different levels, as well as a constant interest in self-education.

Mendel was an exceptional, modest and loving personality, but he never established a scientific school of his own during his lifetime. Until 30 years after his death his ideas were incorporated into the body of science giving birth to genetics.

The present Mendel school takes advantage of the incentive aspect of JGM and his heritage to meet the overall concept based on several of the major directions of the project of Mendel Interactive School of Genetics



Mendel Mobile School (MMS)

The MMS offers a path of scientific thinking to students. The MMS is a unique project of five mobile laboratories that will allow the input of science and research in secondary schools, in which the interest in science and research is usually created. In the year 2014/2015, the mobile laboratories offer a cycle on the theme of "how it works..." which includes:

  • Educational programs – modules
  • Educational materials and teaching texts
  • Consultation and study visits in secondary schools

Mendel Scientific Research School (MSRS)

The MSRS invites students to engage directly in scientific activities. The MSRS represents an already functioning project based on the hands-on experience of students directly in sites of science and research. In the spring semester, the anniversary of the DNA Day is accompanied by a course Afternoon with DNA, in the autumn semester, on the occasion of the award of the Nobel Prices, a course Nobel Anniversaries and the Science in Action. A part thereof is the annual organization of popular-scientific conferences Mendel Forum. In the year 2014/2015, this activity is enhanced by internship programmes and workshops.

  • Science in action (Afternoon with DNA, Nobel anniversaries)
  • Mendel Forum
  • Internship programmes at sites of the science and research


Mendel Summer School (MSS)

The MSS is a novelty that allows an entertaining education even during the holiday season with the use of facilities of the reconstructed Mendel Native House and the Visitor Centre Mendelianum – an attractive world of genetics. It also uses the MSS laboratory equipment which is not used by secondary schools over the holidays and is thus offered to other interested parties during active vacations.

  • Holidays with science for interested persons
  • Holiday school – modules of the mobile school
  • Mendel´s educational weekend


Mendel Summer School in the native house of J. Mendel


Mendel School World Wide + Web (MWŠ)

  • Distance form through e-learning
  • Creation of functional networks of cooperating institutions
  • Introduction of the school in the international context

Project of the Mendel Interactive School of Genetics (CZ. 1.07/2.3.00/45.0037) is financed from the European Fund for Social Development and the state budget of the Czech Republic.


Key partners of the Mendelianum, Moravian Museum in Brno

  • Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics of the Czech Academy, v.v.i. (for research institutions)
  • Mendel University (for universities)
  • Gymnasium, Brno, třída Kapitána Jaroše (for secondary schools)

Associated institutions in Brno

  • University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences in Brno
  • Faculty of Natural Sciences of the Masaryk University
  • Faculty of Medicine of the Masaryk University
  • Masaryk Memorial Cancer Research Institute
  • Institute of Vertebrate Biology of the Czech Academy, v.v.i.
  • Veterinary Research Institute, v.v.i.
  • Brno University of Technology

International Advisory Board

  • Prof. Jan Klein, Pensylvania State University, USA (chair)
  • Prof. Robert C. Karn, University of Arizona, USA
  • Dr. Hervé Lesot, University of Strasbourg, France
  • Dr. Dinko Mintchev, Academy of Sciences, Bulgaria
  • Prof. Paul T. Sharpe, King´s College London, UK
  • Prof. Valery N. Soyfer, George Mason University, USA






Authors of MCentrum conception

prof. RNDr. Eva Matalová, Ph.D. (matalova@iach.cz)

PhDr. Anna Matalová (genetika@mzm.cz)


Mendel Team - Brno

Doc. RNDr. Marcela Buchtová, Ph.D.

Prof. MVDr. Jaroslav Doubek, CSc.

Doc. MVDr. Aleš Hampl, CSc.

Prof. RNDr. MVDr. Petr Hořín, CSc.

Prof. RNDr. Miloš Macholán, CSc.

PhDr. Anna Matalová

prof. RNDr. Eva Matalová, Ph.D.

PhDr. Jiří Sekerák, Ph.D.

Doc. RNDr. Omar Šerý, Ph.D.

Prof. RNDr. Jan Šmarda, CSc.

Doc. Ing. Tomáš Urban, CSc.

RNDr. Lenka Zdražilová Dubská, Ph.D.





  • Doškař J, Šmarda J: Gregor Mendel Genetic Society, Czech Republic, Institute of Experimental Biology, Faculty of Science, Masaryk University, Brno, CR, smarda@sci.muni.cz
  • Schmidt J: Gregor Mendel Gesellschaft Wien, Institute für Pflanzenbau und Pflanzenzüchtung IPP, Vienna, Austria, office@josefschmidt.at
  • Nagata T, Kawano S: The Japan Mendel Society, Department of Integrated Bioscience, The University of Tokyo, Japan, nagata@hosei.ac.jp
  • Martínek J, Jelínek M: Mendeleum – more than 100 years of tradition, Mendeleum, Mendel University, Lednice, CR, jiri.martinek@mendelu.cz


  • Holá D, Zadražil S: Genetics at the Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Science, Department of Genetics and Microbiology, Faculty of Science, Charles University, Prague, CR, dana.hola@natur.cuni.cz
  • Fellnerová I, Matalová A: Mendel and the Palacký University in Olomouc, Faculty of Science, Palacký University Olomouc; Mendelianum, Moravian Museum Brno, CR, ivana.fellnerova@upol.cz
  • Relichová J, Šmarda J: Teaching Genetics at the Faculty of Science of Masaryk University (MU)/J. E. Purkynje University (UJEP), Department of Experimental Biology, Faculty of Science MU, Brno, CR, smarda@sci.muni.cz
  • Urban T: Mendel, Genetics and Mendel University, Department of Animal Morphology, Physiology and Genetics, Faculty of Agronomy, Mendel University, Brno, CR, urban@mendelu.cz



  • Matoušek R: International Conference on Soft Computing MENDEL, Faculty of Mechanical Engineering, Brno University of Technology, Brno, CR, matousek@fme.vutbr.cz
  • Matalová E, Matalová A: Mendel Forum, Mendelianum, Moravian Museum; Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics, CAS, v.v.i., Brno, CR, matalova@iach.cz
  • Cerkal R: MendelNet, Faculty of Agronomy, Mendel University, Brno, CR, radim.cerkal@mendelu.cz
  • Janečková E: Simon Mawer – Mendel´s Dwarf, Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics, CAS, v.v.i., Brno, CR, jjaneckovaeva@seznam.cz


    • Sekerák J: Jaroslav Kříženecký – the founder of Mendelianum, Mendelianum, Moravian Museum, Brno, CR, jsekerak@mzm.cz
    • Daňková J: 50 years since Mendelianum opening, Mendelianum, Moravian Museum, Brno, CR, genetika@mzm.cz
    • Salaš P, Salašová A: Mendel, Vavilov and Brno – new book and movie, Faculty of Horticulture Mendel University in Brno, CR, salaspetr@gmail.com
    • Klein J, Klein N: Solitude of a Humble Genius – Gregor Johann Mendel: Volume 1, University of Pennsylvania, USA, juk9@psu.edu



    • Sato A: Completing Mendel’s Unfinished Experiments, Department of Anatomy and Cytohistology, School of Dental Medicine, Tsurumi University, Japan, sato-ake@tsurumi-u.ac.jp
    • Karn R. C.: A new Center for Applied Genetics and Genomics, University of Arizona, College of Medicine, University of Arizona, USA, rkarn@butler.edu



    • Students drawings to the 150th anniversary of Mendelś discovery

    Proceedings of Mendel Forum 2015 will be published in the peer reviewed journal Folia Mendeliana.



    • Sunday with J. G. Mendel (February 8, 2015)
    • Weekend with J. G. Mendel (March 6-8, 2015)
    • Week with J. G. Mendel (March 6-12, 2015)


    Mendel Forum 2015

    Organized by:

    Institute of Animal Physiology and Genetics,

    Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, v.v.i.

    In cooperation with Moravian Museum in Brno and other institutions integrated in CENTRUM MENDELIANUM

    Contact: Prof. RNDr. Eva Matalová, Ph.D.