Mendelian inheritance (or Mendelian genetics or Mendelism) is a set of primary tenets relating to the transmission of hereditary characteristics from parent organisms to their offspring; it underlies much of genetics.
Mendel discovered that when crossing white flower and purple flower plants, the result is not a blend. Rather than being a mix of the two, the offspring was purple flowered. He then conceived the idea of heredity units, which he called “factors”, one of which is a recessive characteristic and the other dominant.
Mendel said that factors, later called genes, normally occur in pairs in ordinary body cells, yet segregate during the formation of sex cells. Each member of the pair becomes part of the separate sex cell. The dominant gene, such as the purple flower in Mendel’s plants, will hide the recessive gene, the white flower.
After Mendel self-fertilized the F1 generation and obtained the 3:1 ratio, he correctly theorized that genes can be paired in three different ways for each trait: AA, aa, and Aa. The capital “A” represents the dominant factor and lowercase “a” represents the recessive. (The last combination listed above, Aa, will occur roughly twice as often as each of the other two, as it can be made in two different ways, Aa or aA.)
Mendel stated that each individual has two factors for each trait, one from each parent. The two factors may or may not contain the same information. If the two factors are identical, the individual is called homozygous for the trait. If the two factors have different information, the individual is called heterozygous.
The alternative forms of a factor are called alleles. The genotype of an individual is made up of the many alleles it possesses. An individual’s physical appearance, or phenotype, is determined by its alleles as well as by its environment. An individual possesses two alleles for each trait; one allele is given by the female parent and the other by the male parent.
They are passed on when an individual matures and produces gametes: egg and sperm. When gametes form, the paired alleles separate randomly so that each gamete receives a copy of one of the two alleles. The presence of an allele doesn’t promise that the trait will be expressed in the individual that possesses it. In heterozygous individuals the only allele that is expressed is the dominant. The recessive allele is present but its expression is hidden.