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Basic Concepts of Heredity
Next Generation: HS.LS3.2 HS.LS3.2

Basic Concepts of Heredity


This lesson will introduce several basic genetic terms as well as examine some basic concepts of heredity.

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Terms to Know

Variation in a gene, an example would be eye color; there is a gene for eye color but there are different versions of genes that allow for different eye colors.

Dominant Alleles

When one allele masks the expression of another on the same locus, this is seen at the phenotype level.


A genetic unit of heredity; a specific section of DNA that codes for a specific protein.


A trait or characteristic expressed at the genetic level, that is, the genetic makeup of an organism.

Gregor Mendel

Dubbed the "father of modern genetics" and arguably modern biology, Mendel was an Austrian monk who studied heredity and inheritance in plants.


The passing of traits from parents to offspring.


An organism with two different alleles of a gene.


An organism with two identical alleles of a gene.


Receiving genetic characteristics from parents, the manner in which genes are passed down to offspring.


The term used to describe the specific location of a gene/DNA sequence on a chromosome; variations of these genes are referred to as alleles.


An observable characteristic of someone’s traits, examples: eye color, skin color, height, gender etc.

Recessive Allele

An allele that is masked by a dominant allele, recessive alleles are only expressed when they are found in homozygous pairs.