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Figure 3.1:  Pea plants were used by Gregor Mendel to discover some fundamental laws of genetics.

Before Mendel, the basic rules of heredity were not understood. For example, it was known that green-seeded pea plants occasionally produced offspring that had yellow seeds; but were the hereditary factors that controlled seed color somehow changing from one generation to the next, or were certain factors disappearing and reappearing? And did the same factors that controlled seed color also control things like plant height?