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The Beginnings of Modern Genetics

The Beginnings of Modern Genetics

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The first scientific investigation of inheritance came from an unlikely place—a monastery garden in what later became Czechoslovakia. There in the 19th century, a monk named Gregor Mendel bred generations of pea plants, observed the way they inherited characteristics, and founded modern genetics
The first scientific investigation of inheritance came from an unlikely place—a monastery garden in what later became Czechoslovakia. There in the 19th century, a monk named Gregor Mendel bred generations of pea plants, observed the way they inherited characteristics, and founded modern genetics

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Published by: ClassOf1.com on Jun 26, 2013
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Engineering
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Genetic engineering
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The Beginnings of Modern Genetics
The first scientific investigation of inheritance came from an unlikely place
a monastery garden inwhat later became Czechoslovakia. There in the 19th century, a monk named Gregor Mendel bredgenerations of pea plants, observed the way they inherited characteristics, and founded moderngenetics. While cell science and evolution theory were advancing, what was happening in inheritancestudies? Nothing! Mendel's work was quickly forgotten and not rediscovered until the year 1900.Around the turn of the century, several European scientists unknowingly duplicated Mendel's work.When they realized that he had found the same things 35 years earlier, in the best scientific traditionthey quickly named Mendel the founder of modern genetics. By the early 1900s, scientists wereusing Mendel's laws of segregation and dominance to develop many plants and animals and in orderto understand human disease. The next area of investigation concerned what Mendel had calledunits, or genes. These genes make up what are now called chromosomes. The first major discoverygrew out of work on various species of insects. A cell's chromosomes normally come in identicalpairs, except for the chromosomes scientists called X and Y. Females always have two Xchromosomes. Males of some species have one X and one Y, but in other species males have only asingle X chromosome. Scientists quickly realized that the X and Y (or lack of it) determine theindividual's sex. But did these chromosomes have other functions as well? The answer came fromthe first giant of 20th-century genetics, the American Thomas Hunt Morgan. In decades of researchwith the simple fly Drosophila melanogaster, Morgan and his colleagues and students discoveredwhat the X and Y chromosomes do and Morgan developed the theory of the gene.Building on Mendel's work, Morgan found that the fly's eye color is transmitted on the Xchromosome a red eye is dominant and a white eye, recessive. Morgan also found that there are twobody colors, gray and yellow. Mendel's third law (independent assortment) said that eye color andbody color would be transmitted independently. But Morgan found that isn't always true. Instead,
 
 
Sub: Engineering Topic:
 
Genetic engineering
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they seem to be inherited together. Red eye and gray body are inherited together, and so are whiteeye and yellow body. Morgan called this linkage, and other scientists found it in different species.Morgan decided that linkage could occur if both eye color and body color were on the samechromosome. But linkage didn't always occur. To explain this Morgan developed the theory of crossing over in which parts of a chromosome pair exchanged places during cell reproduction. Thelinked traits could then be separated. Morgan called these different trait locations on chromosomegenes. The closer together they were, the more likely they were to stay together. As the researchcontinued, Morgan and other scientists used the crossing-over information to draw linkage maps,showing the locations of various genes on the chromosomes. Other scientists created linkage mapsfor many plant and animal species. Other scientists discovered that portions of chromosomes couldbe changed by exposing them to high temperatures or to X rays. They called these changedchromosomes mutations.

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