Perspectives on Mendel's legacy

In 2015 there are 150 years since the presentation of Gregor Mendel's famous breeding experiments with peas and other plants. While Mendel's results did not have much immediate impact, their "rediscovery" in 1900 formed the basis for the field of genetics and for the "modern synthesis" that remains the backbone of evolutionary biology.

In this one-day symposium we will discuss the historical impact of Mendel's discovery and debate its present-day relevance in modern genetics.

To sign up for the seminar (free), please enter Your name here.


1000 - 1005: Welcome and opening remarks (Chair: Thomas Hansen)

1005 - 1015: Introducing the Norwegian Mendel book: Hessen, Lie, Stenseth

1015 - 1100: Staffan Müller-Wille: "Translating Mendel in the 21century"

1100 - 1130: Coffee

1130 - 1200: Nils Roll-Hansen: "“The gene concept of the man who coined the term: Wilhelm Johannsen"

1200 - 1230: Arve Monsen: "History of genetics in Norway".

1230 - 1300: Panel discussion: "What was it exactly that Mendel discovered?" (Panel: Staffan Muller-Wille, Nils Roll-Hansen)

1300 - 1400: Lunch

1400 - 1445: Rebecca Carver: "What do the general public know and think about modern genetics? Reflections from Brazil"

1445 - 1515: Dag Hessen: "On the encode project and beyond; is there a role for non-coding DNA?"

1515 - 1545: Ragnhild Eskeland: "Epigenetic inheritance - Facts and Fiction"

1545 - 1615: Coffee

1615 - 1645: Stig Omholt: "Systems Genetics"

1645 - 1715: Glenn Sætre: "On the genetics of speciation"

1715 - 1830: Panel discussion: "Are genes still Mendelian? "(Panel: Stig Omholt, Paul Grini, Glenn Sætre).


The seminar will include general discussions introduced by panels. Here the following questions will be addressed:

1. What was it exactly that Mendel discovered?

2. What was it exactly that the geneticists discovered when they rediscovered Mendel?

3. Were Mendel's results to good to be true? Does it matter?

4. What was the new synthesis about?

5. Are Mendel's laws and the Mendelian gene concept still valid?

6. Does evolutionary theory need a rethink? (in the light of epigenetics and system genetics).

7. Should we change the way we teach genetics? Do Mendelian genetics receive too much emphasis in school and university curricula? Does it make people think deterministically? Should some of it be replaced with epigenetics or other concepts of "new" genetics?


A related event is Darwin Day,February the 12th. For more information about Darwin Day, please visit :

Published Dec. 3, 2014 12:26 PM - Last modified Jan. 28, 2015 3:40 PM