Genetics is the branch of biology that studies how traits are passed on from one generation to the next and why there are similarities and differences between related individuals. Prior to the discovery of genes, scientists knew that parents passed something down to their offspring, but they did not know how or what. Gregor Mendel’s famous experiments with peas indicated that certain features, such as pea texture and flower color, are encoded by two sets of traits and that the parental traits can be separated.Decades later, scientists discovered that parents passed down DNA, which was present in chromosomes. Since the discovery of DNA, we have come to appreciate the importance of chromosomes. Genomics is a relatively new field with the bold aim of understanding the function of every single gene in a genome, including the human genome. This field took off with the completion of the first sequenced genome, and after the completion of the Human Genome Project, it has attracted increasing research. Mendelian inheritance can be explained with the movement of the chromosomes during cell division. We have learned that sperm and eggs carry these chromosomes into the offspring during sexual reproduction and that genes located on those chromosomes code for the traits that make us unique. Mainly, meiosis – the germ line specific form of cell division – is responsible for a great variety of offspring during sexual reproduction.In this course, we will discuss inheritance patterns where the recessive and dominant alleles do not matter at all. For example, in the case of imprinting, the only thing that matters is the origin of the allele: some genes are always maternal (it does not matter what allele the father contributes), while other genes are always paternal (it does not matter what allele the mother contributes). Finally, the ultimate departure from Mendel is epigenetic inheritance: the environment induced post-synthetic nucleic DNA modification results in phenotypes that are not written in the DNA sequence.We will also take a close look at chromosomes, DNA, and genes. We will learn about Mendelian and non-Mendelian genetics, the movement of the chromosomes, and the location and mutation of genes in a chromosome. We will learn how hereditary information is transferred, how it can change, how it can lead to human disease, and how it can be tested to indicate disease. Genetic diseases may be diagnosed with karyotyping in the case of aneuploidy or with the help of a genetic test specifically developed to diagnose mutated alleles. It is important that researchers and physicians fully understand mitosis and meiosis, the two fundamental replication cycles, and that they are able to find out how to control each step in order to help prevent disease. Genetic tests are based on bioengineering technology, and bioengineering technology is also used for the production of genetically modified organisms. Bacterial genetics is essential to the production of recombinant DNA; thus, you will take closer look at how non-bacterial sequences can be introduced into bacteria. Recombinant DNA technology has been used to make genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Many of these GMOs are designed with usefulness for humans in mind. GMOs have their dark side as well: due to their advantageous acquired trait(s), some GMOs contribute to the decrease of biodiversity and may elicit adverse allergic reactions in uninformed individuals.Finally, you will study the genetic and phenotypic diversity of populations. You will use the laws of inheritance to explain why trait and allele frequencies change as a result of environmental pressure. We will look at examples of human populations with unusually high frequency of a disease and employ population genetics to explain why the particular disease is more common in the population.At the end of this course, you will know quite a bit about the most basic units of heredity – the very molecules that make us who we are.
Days of the Week:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday
- Level of Difficulty: All Levels
- Size: One-on-One
- Cost: Free
- Institution: Saylor
- Topics: Biology