Heredity

Heredity

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Encyclopedia
Heredity is the passing of traits to offspring (from its parent or ancestors). This is the process by which an offspring cell
Cell (biology)
The cell is the basic structural and functional unit of all known living organisms. It is the smallest unit of life that is classified as a living thing, and is often called the building block of life. The Alberts text discusses how the "cellular building blocks" move to shape developing embryos....

 or organism
Organism
In biology, an organism is any contiguous living system . In at least some form, all organisms are capable of response to stimuli, reproduction, growth and development, and maintenance of homoeostasis as a stable whole.An organism may either be unicellular or, as in the case of humans, comprise...

 acquires or becomes predisposed to the characteristics of its parent cell or organism. Through heredity, variations exhibited by individuals can accumulate and cause some species
Species
In biology, a species is one of the basic units of biological classification and a taxonomic rank. A species is often defined as a group of organisms capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring. While in many cases this definition is adequate, more precise or differing measures are...

 to evolve
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

. The study of heredity in biology
Biology
Biology is a natural science concerned with the study of life and living organisms, including their structure, function, growth, origin, evolution, distribution, and taxonomy. Biology is a vast subject containing many subdivisions, topics, and disciplines...

 is called genetics
Genetics
Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

, which includes the field of epigenetics
Epigenetics
In biology, and specifically genetics, epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression or cellular phenotype caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence – hence the name epi- -genetics...

.

Overview



In humans, eye color
Eye color
Eye color is a polygenic phenotypic character and is determined by two distinct factors: the pigmentation of the eye's iris and the frequency-dependence of the scattering of light by the turbid medium in the stroma of the iris....

 is an inherited characteristic and an individual might inherit the "brown-eye trait" from one of the parents. Inherited traits are controlled by gene
Gene
A gene is a molecular unit of heredity of a living organism. It is a name given to some stretches of DNA and RNA that code for a type of protein or for an RNA chain that has a function in the organism. Living beings depend on genes, as they specify all proteins and functional RNA chains...

s and the complete set of genes within an organism's genome
Genome
In modern molecular biology and genetics, the genome is the entirety of an organism's hereditary information. It is encoded either in DNA or, for many types of virus, in RNA. The genome includes both the genes and the non-coding sequences of the DNA/RNA....

 is called its genotype
Genotype
The genotype is the genetic makeup of a cell, an organism, or an individual usually with reference to a specific character under consideration...

.

The complete set of observable traits that make up the structure and behaviour of an organism is called its phenotype
Phenotype
A phenotype is an organism's observable characteristics or traits: such as its morphology, development, biochemical or physiological properties, behavior, and products of behavior...

. These traits come from the interaction of its genotype with the environment
Environment (biophysical)
The biophysical environment is the combined modeling of the physical environment and the biological life forms within the environment, and includes all variables, parameters as well as conditions and modes inside the Earth's biosphere. The biophysical environment can be divided into two categories:...

. As a result, many aspects of an organism's phenotype are not inherited. For example, suntanned
Sun tanning
Sun tanning or simply tanning is the process whereby skin color is darkened or tanned. The process is most often a result of exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun or from artificial sources, such as a tanning bed, but can also be a result of windburn or reflected light...

 skin comes from the interaction between a person's genotype and sunlight; thus, suntans are not passed on to people's children. However, some people tan more easily than others, due to differences in their genotype; a striking example are people with the inherited trait of albinism
Albinism
Albinism is a congenital disorder characterized by the complete or partial absence of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes due to absence or defect of an enzyme involved in the production of melanin...

, who do not tan at all and are very sensitive to sunburn
Sunburn
A sunburn is a burn to living tissue, such as skin, which is produced by overexposure to ultraviolet radiation, commonly from the sun's rays. Usual mild symptoms in humans and other animals include red or reddish skin that is hot to the touch, general fatigue, and mild dizziness. An excess of UV...

.

Heritable traits are known to be passed from one generation to the next via DNA
DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

, a molecule
Molecule
A molecule is an electrically neutral group of at least two atoms held together by covalent chemical bonds. Molecules are distinguished from ions by their electrical charge...

 that encodes genetic information. DNA is a long polymer
Polymer
A polymer is a large molecule composed of repeating structural units. These subunits are typically connected by covalent chemical bonds...

 composed of four types of bases. The sequence of bases along a particular DNA molecule specify the genetic information, in a manner similar to a sequence of letters spelling out a word. Before a cell divides, the DNA is copied, so that each of the resulting two cells will inherit the DNA sequence. Portions of a DNA molecule that specify a single functional unit are called gene
Gene
A gene is a molecular unit of heredity of a living organism. It is a name given to some stretches of DNA and RNA that code for a type of protein or for an RNA chain that has a function in the organism. Living beings depend on genes, as they specify all proteins and functional RNA chains...

s; different genes have different sequences of bases. Within cells
Cell (biology)
The cell is the basic structural and functional unit of all known living organisms. It is the smallest unit of life that is classified as a living thing, and is often called the building block of life. The Alberts text discusses how the "cellular building blocks" move to shape developing embryos....

, the long strands of DNA form condensed structures called chromosome
Chromosome
A chromosome is an organized structure of DNA and protein found in cells. It is a single piece of coiled DNA containing many genes, regulatory elements and other nucleotide sequences. Chromosomes also contain DNA-bound proteins, which serve to package the DNA and control its functions.Chromosomes...

s. The specific location of a DNA sequence within a chromosome is known as a locus
Locus (genetics)
In the fields of genetics and genetic computation, a locus is the specific location of a gene or DNA sequence on a chromosome. A variant of the DNA sequence at a given locus is called an allele. The ordered list of loci known for a particular genome is called a genetic map...

. If the DNA sequence at a locus varies between individuals, the different forms of this sequence are called allele
Allele
An allele is one of two or more forms of a gene or a genetic locus . "Allel" is an abbreviation of allelomorph. Sometimes, different alleles can result in different observable phenotypic traits, such as different pigmentation...

s. DNA sequences can change through mutation
Mutation
In molecular biology and genetics, mutations are changes in a genomic sequence: the DNA sequence of a cell's genome or the DNA or RNA sequence of a virus. They can be defined as sudden and spontaneous changes in the cell. Mutations are caused by radiation, viruses, transposons and mutagenic...

s, producing new alleles. If a mutation occurs within a gene, the new allele may affect the trait that the gene controls, altering the phenotype of the organism.

However, while this simple correspondence between an allele and a trait works in some cases, most traits are more complex and are controlled by multiple interacting genes
Quantitative trait locus
Quantitative traits refer to phenotypes that vary in degree and can be attributed to polygenic effects, i.e., product of two or more genes, and their environment. Quantitative trait loci are stretches of DNA containing or linked to the genes that underlie a quantitative trait...

 within and among organisms. Developmental biologists suggest that complex interactions in genetic networks and communication among cells can lead to heritable variations that may underlay some of the mechanics in developmental plasticity
Developmental plasticity
Developmental plasticity is a general term referring to changes in neural connections during development as a result of environmental interactions as well as neural changes induced by learning...

 and canalization
Canalisation (genetics)
Canalisation is a measure of the ability of a population to produce the same phenotype regardless of variability of its environment or genotype. In other words, it means robustness. The term canalisation was coined by C. H. Waddington...

.

Recent findings have confirmed important examples of heritable changes that cannot be explained by direct agency of the DNA molecule. These phenomena are classed as epigenetic inheritance systems that are causally or independently evolving over genes. Research into modes and mechanisms of epigenetic inheritance is still in its scientific infancy, however, this area of research has attracted much recent activity as it broadens the scope of heritability and evolutionary biology in general. DNA methylation
DNA methylation
DNA methylation is a biochemical process that is important for normal development in higher organisms. It involves the addition of a methyl group to the 5 position of the cytosine pyrimidine ring or the number 6 nitrogen of the adenine purine ring...

 marking chromatin
Chromatin
Chromatin is the combination of DNA and proteins that make up the contents of the nucleus of a cell. The primary functions of chromatin are; to package DNA into a smaller volume to fit in the cell, to strengthen the DNA to allow mitosis and meiosis and prevent DNA damage, and to control gene...

, self-sustaining metabolic loops, gene silencing by RNA interference
RNA interference
RNA interference is a process within living cells that moderates the activity of their genes. Historically, it was known by other names, including co-suppression, post transcriptional gene silencing , and quelling. Only after these apparently unrelated processes were fully understood did it become...

, and the three dimensional conformation
Protein structure
Proteins are an important class of biological macromolecules present in all organisms. Proteins are polymers of amino acids. Classified by their physical size, proteins are nanoparticles . Each protein polymer – also known as a polypeptide – consists of a sequence formed from 20 possible L-α-amino...

 of proteins (such as prions) are areas where epigenetic inheritance systems have been discovered at the organismic level. Heritability may also occur at even larger scales. For example, ecological inheritance through the process of niche construction
Niche construction
Niche construction is the process in which an organism alters its own environment, often but not always in a manner that increases its chances of survival...

 is defined by the regular and repeated activities of organisms in their environment. This generates a legacy of effect that modifies and feeds back into the selection regime of subsequent generations. Descendants inherit genes plus environmental characteristics generated by the ecological actions of ancestors. Other examples of heritability in evolution that are not under the direct control of genes include the inheritance of cultural traits
Dual inheritance theory
Dual inheritance theory , also known as gene-culture coevolution, was developed in the late 1970s and early 1980s to explain how human behavior is a product of two different and interacting evolutionary processes: genetic evolution and cultural evolution...

, group heritability
Group selection
In evolutionary biology, group selection refers to the idea that alleles can become fixed or spread in a population because of the benefits they bestow on groups, regardless of the alleles' effect on the fitness of individuals within that group....

, and symbiogenesis
Symbiogenesis
Symbiogenesis is the merging of two separate organisms to form a single new organism. The idea originated with Konstantin Mereschkowsky in his 1926 book Symbiogenesis and the Origin of Species, which proposed that chloroplasts originate from cyanobacteria captured by a protozoan...

. These examples of heritability that operate above the gene are covered broadly under the title of multilevel or hierarchical selection, which has been a subject of intense debate in the history of evolutionary science.

Relation to theory of evolution


When Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

 proposed his theory of evolution
Evolution
Evolution is any change across successive generations in the heritable characteristics of biological populations. Evolutionary processes give rise to diversity at every level of biological organisation, including species, individual organisms and molecules such as DNA and proteins.Life on Earth...

 in 1859, one of its major problems was the lack of an underlying mechanism for heredity. Darwin believed in a mix of blending inheritance and the inheritance of acquired trait
Trait (biology)
A trait is a distinct variant of a phenotypic character of an organism that may be inherited, environmentally determined or be a combination of the two...

s (pangenesis
Pangenesis
Pangenesis was Charles Darwin's hypothetical mechanism for heredity. He presented this 'provisional hypothesis' in his 1868 work The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication and felt that it brought 'together a multitude of facts which are at present left disconnected by any efficient...

). Blending inheritance would lead to uniformity across populations in only a few generations and thus would remove variation from a population on which natural selection could act. This led to Darwin adopting some Lamarckian ideas in later editions of On the Origin of Species and his later biological works. Darwin's primary approach to heredity was to outline how it appeared to work (noticing that traits could be inherited which were not expressed explicitly in the parent at the time of reproduction, that certain traits could be sex
Sex
In biology, sex is a process of combining and mixing genetic traits, often resulting in the specialization of organisms into a male or female variety . Sexual reproduction involves combining specialized cells to form offspring that inherit traits from both parents...

-linked, etc.) rather than suggesting mechanisms.

Darwin's initial model of heredity was adopted by, and then heavily modified by, his cousin Francis Galton
Francis Galton
Sir Francis Galton /ˈfrɑːnsɪs ˈgɔːltn̩/ FRS , cousin of Douglas Strutt Galton, half-cousin of Charles Darwin, was an English Victorian polymath: anthropologist, eugenicist, tropical explorer, geographer, inventor, meteorologist, proto-geneticist, psychometrician, and statistician...

, who laid the framework for the biometric school of heredity. Galton rejected the aspects of Darwin's pangenesis model which relied on acquired traits.

The inheritance of acquired traits was shown to have little basis in the 1880s when August Weismann
August Weismann
Friedrich Leopold August Weismann was a German evolutionary biologist. Ernst Mayr ranked him the second most notable evolutionary theorist of the 19th century, after Charles Darwin...

 cut the tail
Tail
The tail is the section at the rear end of an animal's body; in general, the term refers to a distinct, flexible appendage to the torso. It is the part of the body that corresponds roughly to the sacrum and coccyx in mammals, reptiles, and birds...

s off many generations of mice
Mouse
A mouse is a small mammal belonging to the order of rodents. The best known mouse species is the common house mouse . It is also a popular pet. In some places, certain kinds of field mice are also common. This rodent is eaten by large birds such as hawks and eagles...

 and found that their offspring continued to develop tails.

History


The ancients
Ancient history
Ancient history is the study of the written past from the beginning of recorded human history to the Early Middle Ages. The span of recorded history is roughly 5,000 years, with Cuneiform script, the oldest discovered form of coherent writing, from the protoliterate period around the 30th century BC...

 had a variety of ideas about heredity: Theophrastus
Theophrastus
Theophrastus , a Greek native of Eresos in Lesbos, was the successor to Aristotle in the Peripatetic school. He came to Athens at a young age, and initially studied in Plato's school. After Plato's death he attached himself to Aristotle. Aristotle bequeathed to Theophrastus his writings, and...

 proposed that male flowers caused female flowers to ripen; Hippocrates
Hippocrates
Hippocrates of Cos or Hippokrates of Kos was an ancient Greek physician of the Age of Pericles , and is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine...

 speculated that "seeds" were produced by various body parts and transmitted to offspring at the time of conception, and Aristotle
Aristotle
Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher of Alexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics, government, ethics, biology, and zoology...

 thought that male and female semen mixed at conception. Aeschylus
Aeschylus
Aeschylus was the first of the three ancient Greek tragedians whose work has survived, the others being Sophocles and Euripides, and is often described as the father of tragedy. His name derives from the Greek word aiskhos , meaning "shame"...

, in 458 BC
458 BC
Year 458 BC was a year of the pre-Julian Roman calendar. At the time, it was known as the Year of the Consulship of Rutilus and Carvetus...

, proposed the male as the parent, with the female as a "nurse for the young life sown within her."

Various hereditary mechanisms were envisaged without being properly tested or quantified. These included blending inheritance
Blending inheritance
Many biologists and other academics held to the idea of blending inheritance during the 19th century, prior to the discovery of genetics. Blending inheritance was merely a widespread hypothetical model, rather than a formalized scientific theory , in...

 and the inheritance of acquired traits. Nevertheless, people were able to develop domestic breeds of animals as well as crops through artificial selection
Artificial selection
Artificial selection describes intentional breeding for certain traits, or combination of traits. The term was utilized by Charles Darwin in contrast to natural selection, in which the differential reproduction of organisms with certain traits is attributed to improved survival or reproductive...

. The inheritance of acquired traits also formed a part of early Lamarckian ideas on evolution.

During the 18th century, Dutch microscopist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek (1632–1723) discovered "animalcules" in the sperm of humans and other animals. Some scientists speculated they saw a "little man" (homunculus
Homunculus
Homunculus is a term used, generally, in various fields of study to refer to any representation of a human being. Historically, it referred specifically to the concept of a miniature though fully formed human body, for example, in the studies of alchemy and preformationism...

) inside each sperm
Spermatozoon
A spermatozoon is a motile sperm cell, or moving form of the haploid cell that is the male gamete. A spermatozoon joins an ovum to form a zygote...

. These scientists formed a school of thought known as the "spermists." They contended the only contributions of the female to the next generation were the womb in which the homunculus grew, and prenatal influences of the womb. An opposing school of thought, the ovists, believed that the future human was in the egg, and that sperm merely stimulated the growth of the egg. Ovists thought women carried eggs containing boy and girl children, and that the gender of the offspring was determined well before conception.

Gregor Mendel: father of genetics



The idea of particulate inheritance of genes can be attributed to the Moravia
Moravia
Moravia is a historical region in Central Europe in the east of the Czech Republic, and one of the former Czech lands, together with Bohemia and Silesia. It takes its name from the Morava River which rises in the northwest of the region...

n monk Gregor Mendel
Gregor Mendel
Gregor Johann Mendel was an Austrian scientist and Augustinian friar who gained posthumous fame as the founder of the new science of genetics. Mendel demonstrated that the inheritance of certain traits in pea plants follows particular patterns, now referred to as the laws of Mendelian inheritance...

 who published his work on pea plants in 1865. However, his work was not widely known and was rediscovered in 1901. It was initially assumed the Mendelian inheritance only accounted for large (qualitative) differences, such as those seen by Mendel in his pea plants—and the idea of additive effect of (quantitative) genes was not realised until R.A. Fisher
Ronald Fisher
Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher FRS was an English statistician, evolutionary biologist, eugenicist and geneticist. Among other things, Fisher is well known for his contributions to statistics by creating Fisher's exact test and Fisher's equation...

's (1918) paper, "The Correlation Between Relatives on the Supposition of Mendelian Inheritance
The Correlation Between Relatives on the Supposition of Mendelian Inheritance
The Correlation Between Relatives on the Supposition of Mendelian Inheritance is a scientific paper by R.A. Fisher which was published in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1918,...

" Mendel's overall contribution gave scientists an useful overview that traits were inheritable. As of today, his pea plant demonstration became the foundation of the study of Mendelian Traits. These traits can be traced on a single loci.

Modern development of genetics and heredity



In the 1930s, work by Fisher and others resulted in a combination of Mendelian and biometric schools into the modern evolutionary synthesis
Modern evolutionary synthesis
The modern evolutionary synthesis is a union of ideas from several biological specialties which provides a widely accepted account of evolution...

. The modern synthesis bridged the gap between experimental geneticists and naturalists; and between both and palaeontologists, stating that:
  1. All evolutionary phenomena can be explained in a way consistent with known genetic mechanisms and the observational evidence of naturalists.
  2. Evolution is gradual: small genetic changes, recombination ordered by natural selection. Discontinuities amongst species (or other taxa) are explained as originating gradually through geographical separation and extinction (not saltation).
  3. Selection
    Natural selection
    Natural selection is the nonrandom process by which biologic traits become either more or less common in a population as a function of differential reproduction of their bearers. It is a key mechanism of evolution....

     is overwhelmingly the main mechanism of change; even slight advantages are important when continued. The object of selection is the phenotype
    Phenotype
    A phenotype is an organism's observable characteristics or traits: such as its morphology, development, biochemical or physiological properties, behavior, and products of behavior...

     in its surrounding environment. The role of genetic drift
    Genetic drift
    Genetic drift or allelic drift is the change in the frequency of a gene variant in a population due to random sampling.The alleles in the offspring are a sample of those in the parents, and chance has a role in determining whether a given individual survives and reproduces...

     is equivocal; though strongly supported initially by Dobzhansky, it was downgraded later as results from ecological genetics were obtained.
  4. The primacy of population thinking: the genetic diversity carried in natural populations is a key factor in evolution. The strength of natural selection in the wild was greater than expected; the effect of ecological factors such as niche occupation and the significance of barriers to gene flow are all important.
  5. In palaeontology, the ability to explain historical observations by extrapolation from micro to macro-evolution is proposed. Historical contingency means explanations at different levels may exist. Gradualism does not mean constant rate of change.


The idea that speciation
Speciation
Speciation is the evolutionary process by which new biological species arise. The biologist Orator F. Cook seems to have been the first to coin the term 'speciation' for the splitting of lineages or 'cladogenesis,' as opposed to 'anagenesis' or 'phyletic evolution' occurring within lineages...

 occurs after populations are reproductively isolated has been much debated. In plants, polyploidy must be included in any view of speciation. Formulations such as 'evolution consists primarily of changes in the frequencies of alleles
Allele frequency
Allele frequency or Gene frequency is the proportion of all copies of a gene that is made up of a particular gene variant . In other words, it is the number of copies of a particular allele divided by the number of copies of all alleles at the genetic place in a population. It can be expressed for...

 between one generation and another' were proposed rather later. The traditional view is that developmental biology ('evo-devo') played little part in the synthesis, but an account of Gavin de Beer
Gavin de Beer
Sir Gavin Rylands de Beer FRS was a British evolutionary embryologist. He was Director of the British Museum , President of the Linnean Society, and received the Royal Society's Darwin Medal for his studies on evolution.-Biography:...

's work by Stephen Jay Gould
Stephen Jay Gould
Stephen Jay Gould was an American paleontologist, evolutionary biologist, and historian of science. He was also one of the most influential and widely read writers of popular science of his generation....

 suggests he may be an exception.

Almost all aspects of the synthesis have been challenged at times, with varying degrees of success. There is no doubt, however, that the synthesis was a great landmark in evolutionary biology. It cleared up many confusions, and was directly responsible for stimulating a great deal of research in the post-World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 era.

Trofim Lysenko
Trofim Lysenko
Trofim Denisovich Lysenko was a Soviet agronomist of Ukrainian origin, who was director of Soviet biology under Joseph Stalin. Lysenko rejected Mendelian genetics in favor of the hybridization theories of Russian horticulturist Ivan Vladimirovich Michurin, and adopted them into a powerful...

 however caused a backlash of what is now called Lysenkoism
Lysenkoism
Lysenkoism, or Lysenko-Michurinism, also denotes the biological inheritance principle which Trofim Lysenko subscribed to and which derive from theories of the heritability of acquired characteristics, a body of biological inheritance theory which departs from Mendelism and that Lysenko named...

 in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 when he emphasised Lamarckian ideas on the inheritance of acquired traits. This movement affected agricultural research and led to food shortages in the 1960s and seriously affected the USSR.

Common Genetic Disorders

  • Down syndrome
  • Huntington’s disease
  • Phenylketonuria (PKU)
  • FOXP2
  • Hemophilia

Types of heredity


Dominant and recessive

An allele
Allele
An allele is one of two or more forms of a gene or a genetic locus . "Allel" is an abbreviation of allelomorph. Sometimes, different alleles can result in different observable phenotypic traits, such as different pigmentation...

 is said to be dominant if it is always expressed in the appearance of an organism (phenotype). For example, in peas the allele for green pods, G, is dominant to that for yellow pods, g. Since the allele for green pods is dominant, pea plants with the pair of alleles GG (homozygote) or Gg (heterozygote) will have green pods. The allele for yellow pods is recessive. The effects of this allele are only seen when it is present in both chromosomes, gg (homozygote).

The description of a mode of biological inheritance consists of three main categories:
1. Number of involved loci
Locus (genetics)
In the fields of genetics and genetic computation, a locus is the specific location of a gene or DNA sequence on a chromosome. A variant of the DNA sequence at a given locus is called an allele. The ordered list of loci known for a particular genome is called a genetic map...

  • Monogenetic (also called "simple") – one locus
    Locus (genetics)
    In the fields of genetics and genetic computation, a locus is the specific location of a gene or DNA sequence on a chromosome. A variant of the DNA sequence at a given locus is called an allele. The ordered list of loci known for a particular genome is called a genetic map...

  • Oligogenetic – few loci
  • Polygenetic – many loci

2. Involved chromosome
Chromosome
A chromosome is an organized structure of DNA and protein found in cells. It is a single piece of coiled DNA containing many genes, regulatory elements and other nucleotide sequences. Chromosomes also contain DNA-bound proteins, which serve to package the DNA and control its functions.Chromosomes...

s
  • Autosomal – loci are not situated on a sex chromosome
  • Gonosomal – loci are situated on a sex chromosome
    • X-chromosomal – loci are situated on the X-chromosome
      X chromosome
      The X chromosome is one of the two sex-determining chromosomes in many animal species, including mammals and is common in both males and females. It is a part of the XY sex-determination system and X0 sex-determination system...

       (the more common case)
    • Y-chromosomal – loci are situated on the Y-chromosome
      Y chromosome
      The Y chromosome is one of the two sex-determining chromosomes in most mammals, including humans. In mammals, it contains the gene SRY, which triggers testis development if present. The human Y chromosome is composed of about 60 million base pairs...

  • Mitochondrial – loci are situated on the mitochondrial DNA
    Mitochondrial DNA
    Mitochondrial DNA is the DNA located in organelles called mitochondria, structures within eukaryotic cells that convert the chemical energy from food into a form that cells can use, adenosine triphosphate...


3. Correlation genotype
Genotype
The genotype is the genetic makeup of a cell, an organism, or an individual usually with reference to a specific character under consideration...

phenotype
Phenotype
A phenotype is an organism's observable characteristics or traits: such as its morphology, development, biochemical or physiological properties, behavior, and products of behavior...

  • Dominant
  • Intermediate
    Intermediate
    Intermediate means "occurring between two extremes, or in the middle of a range". It comes from the Latin word 'intermedia' which literally means 'among the middle' and may refer to:...

     (also called "codominant")
  • Recessive
    Recessive
    In genetics, the term "recessive gene" refers to an allele that causes a phenotype that is only seen in a homozygous genotype and never in a heterozygous genotype. Every person has two copies of every gene on autosomal chromosomes, one from mother and one from father...



These three categories are part of every exact description of a mode of inheritance in the above order. Additionally, more specifications may be added as follows:
4. Coincidental and environmental interactions

  • Penetrance
    Penetrance
    Penetrance in genetics is the proportion of individuals carrying a particular variant of a gene that also express an associated trait . In medical genetics, the penetrance of a disease-causing mutation is the proportion of individuals with the mutation who exhibit clinical symptoms...

    • Complete
    • Incomplete (percentual number)
  • Expressivity
    Expressivity
    Expressivity is a term used in genetics to refer to variations in a phenotype among individuals carrying a particular genotype. The term can be used to characterize qualitatively or quantitatively the extent of phenotypic variation given a particular genotype. The term is analogous to the...

    • Invariable
    • Variable
  • Heritability
    Heritability
    The Heritability of a population is the proportion of observable differences between individuals that is due to genetic differences. Factors including genetics, environment and random chance can all contribute to the variation between individuals in their observable characteristics...

     (in polygenetic and sometimes also in oligogenetic modes of inheritance)
  • Maternal or paternal imprinting
    Imprinting (genetics)
    Genomic imprinting is a genetic phenomenon by which certain genes are expressed in a parent-of-origin-specific manner. It is an inheritance process independent of the classical Mendelian inheritance. Imprinted alleles are silenced such that the genes are either expressed only from the non-imprinted...

     phenomena (also see epigenetics
    Epigenetics
    In biology, and specifically genetics, epigenetics is the study of heritable changes in gene expression or cellular phenotype caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence – hence the name epi- -genetics...

    )

5. Sex-linked interactions

  • Sex-linked inheritance (gonosomal loci)
  • Sex-limited phenotype expression (e.g., cryptorchism)
  • Inheritance through the maternal line (in case of
  • Inheritance through the paternal line (in case of Y-chromosomal
    Y chromosome
    The Y chromosome is one of the two sex-determining chromosomes in most mammals, including humans. In mammals, it contains the gene SRY, which triggers testis development if present. The human Y chromosome is composed of about 60 million base pairs...

     loci)

6. Locus–locus interactions
  • Epistasis
    Epistasis
    In genetics, epistasis is the phenomenon where the effects of one gene are modified by one or several other genes, which are sometimes called modifier genes. The gene whose phenotype is expressed is called epistatic, while the phenotype altered or suppressed is called hypostatic...

     with other loci (e.g., overdominance
    Overdominance
    Overdominance is a condition in genetics where the phenotype of the heterozygote lies outside of the phenotypical range of both homozygote parents. Overdominance can also be described as heterozygote advantage, wherein heterozygous individuals have a higher fitness than homozygous individuals.An...

    )
  • Gene coupling with other loci (also see crossing over
    Chromosomal crossover
    Chromosomal crossover is an exchange of genetic material between homologous chromosomes. It is one of the final phases of genetic recombination, which occurs during prophase I of meiosis in a process called synapsis. Synapsis begins before the synaptonemal complex develops, and is not completed...

    )
  • Homozygotous lethal factors
  • Semi-lethal factors


Determination and description of a mode of inheritance is primarily achieved through statistical analysis of pedigree data. In case the involved loci are known, methods of molecular genetics
Molecular genetics
Molecular genetics is the field of biology and genetics that studies the structure and function of genes at a molecular level. The field studies how the genes are transferred from generation to generation. Molecular genetics employs the methods of genetics and molecular biology...

can also be employed.

External links