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Chromosomes, genes & DNA

Chromosomes are X-shaped objects found in the nucleus of most cells. They consist of long strands of a substance called deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA for short. A section of DNA that has the genetic code for making a particular protein is called a gene.

Genes
Our DNA contain two genes (one from our mother and one from our father) for each characteristic (eye colour, hair colour etc.)

Alleles
Different genes for the same characteristic (e.g. eye colour) are called alleles.
Pron: Al eels

For example, you all have two genes (alleles) for eye colour

Which colour eyes?


Your eye colour depends on which genes you have. Lets look at the genes for brown and blue eyes.

The brown eye gene (B) is dominant and the blue eye gene (b)is recessive

(heterozygous)

Which colour eyes?


If you have the alleles for eye colour of Bb, you will have brown eyes (because the brown gene is dominant).

(homozygous)

Which colour eyes?

If you have BB, you will also have brown eyes.

(homozygous)

Which colour eyes?

Only if you have bb will your eyes be blue (both genes are recessive)

Which colour eyes?


Your combination of genes (BB, Bb or bb) is called your genotype.

The colour of eyes you actually have is called your phenotype

An example
Lets imagine your mother has Bb genotype and your father also has Bb.

Bb

Bb

An example
Half your mothers eggs will have B genes and half b (eggs are gametes and only contain one of each pair of genes)
eggs

B
Haploid cells

An example
Half your fathers sperm will have the B gene and half the b gene too.

B
Haploid cells Sperm!

Gene diagram (Punnett square)


We can look at the possible combinations on a gene diagram Egg with B Egg with b Sperm Sperm with B with b

Gene diagram (Punnett square)


Here are all the possible combinations for a fertilised egg Egg with B Egg with b Sperm Sperm with B with b BB Bb

Bb

bb

Gene diagram
This means that there is a 75% chance the baby will have brown eyes (BB or Bb) and only a 25% chance the baby will have blue eyes (bb) Sperm Sperm with B with b Egg with B Egg with b
phenotype genotype

BB
BROWN

Bb
BROWN

Bb
BROWN

bb
BLUE

Pure breeding
If one parent has both dominant genes(BB), any baby will have to have brown eyes. We say the parent is pure breeding. Sperm Sperm with B with B Egg with B Egg with b
phenotype

BB
BROWN

BB
BROWN

Bb
BROWN

Bb
BROWN

Some simple examples for you to try

Codominance

Codominant characteristics
Some characteristics are the result of 2 types of alleles that are equally dominant. Such characteristics are said to be codominant. The result is blending.

Curly, straight or wavy?


The alleles for curly hair and straight hair are examples of alleles for a characteristic that are codominant.

Curly
Individuals with curly hair are homozygous for curly hair alleles.

Straight
Individuals with straight hair are homozygous for straight hair alleles.

Wavy
Individuals who are heterozygous, with one of each allele have wavy hair (a blend).

Red and white Snapdragons

To summarize:
Codominance: when both alleles are dominant. The heterozygous individual shows both alleles expressed equally (blending) Normally a capital letter represents one of the codominant alleles and different capital letter represents the other codominant allele so that the two do not get mixed up.

Chromosomes, genes & DNA


Chromosomes are X-shaped objects found in the nucleus of most cells. They consist of long strands of a substance called deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA for short. A section of DNA that has the genetic code for making a particular protein is called a gene.

Human Chromosomes
23 pairs (46 in total)
Diploid number Haploid number

Other animals
Fruit fly 4 pairs

I like fruit.

Cat 19 pairs
I just like food!

Sex
22 pairs of human chromosomes are matching, but the 23rd pair sometimes do not match

Sex chromosomes
The 23rd pair are the sex chromosomes. These determine whether you are a male or a female

Male (XY) or female (XX)?

Why equal numbers of males or females?

Why equal numbers of males or females?

female

Why equal numbers of males or females?

female

male

Mutation

Mutation
A mutation is a change in a gene or a chromosome

Mutation
Mutations are mostly minor, many are harmful, some are lethal, very few are helpful

Albinos
In albinos, a gene that controls the production of the skin pigment melanin has mutated and the melonin can no longer be produced.

What causes mutations


Mutations can occur naturally, but radioactive particles and some chemicals can also cause mutations to happen.

Advantageous mutations
Occasionally a mutation may give an evolutionary advantage.

Indeed, we are the result of billions of years of mutations!

Lets try some more questions.


Questions 1, 2, 4, 8, 9, 10.