Genetics is the study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity in living organisms. It is generally considered a field of biology, but it intersects frequently with many of the life sciences and is strongly linked with the study of information systems.
The father of genetics is Gregor Mendel, a late 19th-century scientist and Augustinian friar. Mendel studied 'trait inheritance', patterns in the way traits were handed down from parents to offspring. He observed that organisms (pea plants) inherit traits by way of discrete "units of inheritance". This term, still used today, is a somewhat ambiguous definition of what is referred to as a gene.
Trait inheritance and molecular inheritance mechanisms of genes are still primary principles of genetics in the 21st century, but modern genetics has expanded beyond inheritance to studying the function and behaviour of genes. 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.
Genetics has given rise to a number of sub-fields including epigenetics and population genetics. Organisms studied within the broad field span the domain of life, including bacteria, plants, animals, and humans.