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

Basic Concepts of Heredity

Author: Aaron Mullally

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

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  • Gene

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

  • Allele

    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.

  • Locus

    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.

  • Homozygous

    An organism with two identical alleles of a gene.

  • Heterozygous

    An organism with two different alleles of a gene.

  • Genotype

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

  • Phenotype

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

  • Dominant Alleles

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

  • Recessive Allele

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

  • Heredity

    The passing of traits from parents to offspring.

  • Gregor Mendel

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

  • Inheritance

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