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Mendel studied "trait inheritance", patterns in the way traits are handed down from parents to offspring.

A classic example is two seeds of genetically identical corn, one placed in a temperate climate and one in an arid climate.

While the average height of the two corn stalks may be genetically determined to be equal, the one in the arid climate only grows to half the height of the one in the temperate climate due to lack of water and nutrients in its environment.

Although genes were known to exist on chromosomes, chromosomes are composed of both protein and DNA, and scientists did not know which of the two is responsible for inheritance.

In 1928, Frederick Griffith discovered the phenomenon of transformation (see Griffith's experiment): dead bacteria could transfer genetic material to "transform" other still-living bacteria.

Gene structure and function, variation, and distribution are studied within the context of the cell, the organism (e.g.

dominance), and within the context of a population.

Although this pattern of inheritance could only be observed for a few traits, Mendel's work suggested that heredity was particulate, not acquired, and that the inheritance patterns of many traits could be explained through simple rules and ratios.

The importance of Mendel's work did not gain wide understanding until 1900, after his death, when Hugo de Vries and other scientists rediscovered his research.

Genetic processes work in combination with an organism's environment and experiences to influence development and behavior, often referred to as nature versus nurture.

The intracellular or extracellular environment of a cell or organism may switch gene transcription on or off.

After the rediscovery of Mendel's work, scientists tried to determine which molecules in the cell were responsible for inheritance.

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