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Handout 4

What is the physical basis of inheritance?
Inheritance is the process by which the characteristics of individuals are passed
to their offspring.
Chromosomes are made up of DNA together with various proteins.
Genes are parts of chromosomes.
Inheritance occurs when genes are transmitted from parent t offspring.
A. Genes are sequences of nucleotides at specific locations on chromosomes
Locus a genes physical location on a chromosome (plural: loci)
Alleles different nucleotide sequence at the same locus on two homologous
B. An organisms two alleles may be the same or different
Homozygous both homologous chromosomes have the same allele at a locus
Heterozygous homologous chromosomes have different alleles at a locus
How did Gregor Mendel lay the foundation for modern genetics?
Gregor Mendel an Austrian monk; before settling down as a monk in the
monastery of St. Thomas in Brunn, he attended the University of Vienna for two
years. He studied many subjects including botany and mathematics. At St.
Thomas, Mendel used this training to carry out a groundbreaking series of
experiments on inheritance in the common edible pea.
A. Doing it right: the Secrets of Mendels Success
Mendels choice of the edible pea as an experimental subject was critical to the
success of his experiments.
o Self-fertilization Each pea flower normally supplies its own pollen, so
the egg cells in each flower are fertilized by sperm from the pollen of the
same flower.
o Cross-fertilization mating of two plants
Mendels experimental design was simple but brilliant. Rather than looking at the
entire plant, he chose to study individual characteristics that had unmistakably
different forms, such as white versus purple flowers. He also worked with one
trait at a time.
How are single traits inherited?
Mendel cross fertilized a white-flowered pea plant with a purple-flowered one.
This was the parental generation, denoted by the letter P. When he grew the

resulting seeds, he found that all the first generation offspring (first filial or F1)
produced purple flowers.
Mendel then allowed the F1 flowers to self fertilize, collected the seeds, and
planted them the next spring. In the second generation (F2), about of the
plants had purple flowers and had white flowers.

A. The inheritance of dominant and recessive alleles on homologous chromosomes

can explain the result of Mendels crosses
Each trait is determined by pairs of discrete physical units that we now call genes.
Each organism has two alleles for each gene.
When two different alleles are present in an organism, one-the dominant allelemay mask the expression of the other- the recessive allele.
Mendels law of segregation: the two alleles of a gene separate from one another
during meiosis.
Chance determines which allele is included in a given gamete
True-breeding organisms have two copies of the same alleles for a given gene.
Genotype the actual combination of alleles carried by an organism
Phenotype the organisms traits including its appearance, behavior, digestive
enzymes, blood type or any other observable or measurable features
B. Simple genetic bookkeeping can predict genotypes and phenotypes of offspring
Punnett square method named after R.C. Punnett is a convenient way to
predict the genotypes and phenotypes of offspring.
C. Mendels Hypothesis can be used to predict the outcome of new types of single-trait
Cross-fertilization of an organism with a dominant phenotype but an unknown
genotype with a homozygous recessive organism tests whether the organism with
the dominant phenotype is homozygous or heterozygous.
How are multiple traits inherited?
A. Mendel hypothesized that traits are inherited independently
Law independent assortment: the alleles of one gene may be distributed to
gametes independently of the alleles for other genes. (independent inheritance of
two or more distinct traits)
How is sex determined and how are sex-linked genes inherited?
Sex chromosomes: XX for female and XY for male
Autosomes: body chromosomes
A. Sex-linked genes are found only on the X or only on the Y chromosome

Genes that are on one sex chromosome but not on the other are said to be sexlinked.
Drosophila or fruit fly eye color