You are on page 1of 5

Essential Genetics Background for Baby

Genes Lab
Dominant/Recessive Trait
Dominance in genetics is a relationship between alleles of one gene, in which the
effect on phenotype of one allele masks the contribution of a second allele at the
same locus. The first allele is dominant and the second allele is recessive. For
genes on an autosome (any chromosome other than asex chromosome), the alleles
and their associated traits are autosomal dominant or autosomal recessive.
Dominance is a key concept in Mendelian inheritance and classical genetics. Often
the dominant allele codes for a functional protein whereas the recessive allele does
not.
A classic example of dominance is the inheritance of seed shape, for example
a pea shape in peas. Peas may be round, associated with allele R or wrinkled,
associated with allele r. In this case, three combinations of alleles (genotypes) are
possible: RR, Rr, and rr. The RR individuals have round peas and the rr individuals
have wrinkled peas. In Rr individuals the R allele masks the presence of the r allele,
so these individuals also have round peas. Thus, allele R is dominant to allele r, and
allele r is recessive to allele R. This use of upper case letters for dominant alleles
and lower case ones for recessive alleles is a widely followed convention.
More generally, where a gene exists in two allelic versions (designated A and a),
three combinations of alleles are possible: AA, Aa, and aa. If AA and aaindividuals
(homozygotes) show different forms of some trait (phenotypes), and Aa individuals
(heterozygotes) show the same phenotype as AAindividuals, then allele A is said
to dominate or be dominant to or show dominance to allele a, and a is said to be
recessive to A.

Incomplete Dominance
Incomplete dominance is a form of intermediate inheritance in which one allele for
a specific trait is not completely expressed over its paired allele. This results in a
third phenotype in which the expressed physical trait is a combination of the
phenotypes of both alleles. Unlike in complete dominanceinheritance, one allele
does not dominate or mask the other allele. Incomplete dominance occurs in
the polygenic inheritance of traits such as eye color and skin color.

Incomplete Dominance vs Co-dominance

Incomplete genetic dominance is similar to, but different from co-dominance. In codominance, an additional phenotype is produced, however both alleles are
expressed completely. Co-dominance is exemplified in AB blood type inheritance.
For additional information see: Differences Between Incomplete Dominance and Codominance.

Incomplete Dominance in Snapdragons


Example: Incomplete dominance is seen in cross-pollination experiments between
red and white snapdragon plants. In this monohybrid cross, the allele that produces
the red color (R) is not completely expressed over the allele that produces the
white color (r).
The resulting offspring are all pink. The genotypes are: Red (RR) X White (rr)
= Pink (Rr).
When the F1 (first filial) generation (consisting of all pink plants) is allowed to crosspollinate, the resulting plants (F2 generation) consist of all three phenotypes [1/4
Red (RR): 1/2 Pink (Rr): 1/4 White (rr)]. The phenotypic ratio is 1:2:1.
When the F1 (first filial) generation is allowed to cross-pollinate with true
breeding red plants, the resulting plants (F2 generation) consist of red and
pink phenotypes [1/2 Red (RR): 1/2 Pink (Rr)].
The phenotypic ratio is 1:1.
When the F1 (first filial) generation is allowed to cross-pollinate with true
breeding white plants, the resulting plants (F2 generation) consist of white and
pink phenotypes [1/2 White (rr): 1/2 Pink (Rr)]. The phenotypic ratio is 1:1.
In incomplete dominance, the intermediate trait is the heterozygous genotype. In
the case of snapdragon plants, the pink plants are heterozygous with
the (Rr) genotype. The red and white plants are both homozygous for plant color
with genotypes of (RR) red and (rr) white.

Independent assortment is a basic principle of genetics developed by a monk


named Gregor Mendel in the 1860's. Mendel formulated this principle after
discovering another principle now known as Mendel's law of segregation. This
principle states that the allelesfor a trait separate when gametes are formed. These
allele pairs are then randomly united at fertilization. Mendel arrived at this
conclusion by performing monohybrid crosses.

These were cross-pollination experiments with pea plants that differed in one trait,
for example pod color.
Mendel began to wonder what would happen if he studied plants that differed in
two traits. Would both traits be transmitted to the offspring together or would one
trait be transmitted independently of the other? From his experiments Mendel
developed the principle now known as the law of independent assortment.

Mendel's Law of Independent Assortment


Mendel performed dihybrid crosses in plants that were true-breeding for two traits.
For example, a plant that had green pod color and yellow seed color was crosspollinated with a plant that had yellow pod color and green seeds. In this cross, the
traits for green pod color (GG) and yellow seed color (YY) are dominant. Yellow pod
color (gg) and green seed color (yy) are recessive. The resulting offspring (Figure
A)or F1 generation were all heterozygous for green pod color and yellow seeds
(GgYy).

After observing the results of the dihybrid cross, Mendel allowed all of
the F1 plants to self-pollinate. He referred to these offspring as the F2
generation. Mendel noticed a 9:3:3:1 ratio (Figure B). About 9 of the
F2 plants had green pods and yellow seeds, 3 had green pods and
green seeds, 3 had yellow pods and yellow seeds and 1 had a yellow
pod and green seeds.

Mendel's Law of Independent Assortment


Mendel performed similar experiments focusing on several other traits
like seed color and seed shape, pod color and pod shape, and flower
position and stem length. He noticed the same ratios in each case.
From these experiments Mendel formulated what is now known as
Mendel's law of independent assortment. This law states that allele
pairs separate independently during the formation of gametes.
Therefore, traits are transmitted to offspring independently of one
another.

Genotype and Phenotype


In Mendel's experiment with pod color and seed color (Figure A) we see
that the genotype or genetic makeup of the F1 plants is GgYy. The
phenotypes or expressed physical traits are green pod color and yellow
seed color. Both of these traits are dominant.
The F2 generation pea plants (Figure B) show two different phenotypes
for each trait. Pod color is either green or yellow and seed color is either
yellow or green. There are nine different genotypes that result from this

type of experiment. The F2 generation genotypes and phenotypes can


be seen in the image above.

Sex-Linked Trait
A trait genetically determined by an allele located on the sex
chromosome
Since traits are sex-linked, there is usually a distinct pattern. For
example, color blindness is a sex-linked trait whose allele is recessive
and located on the X chromosome.
When the mother is color blind and the father is not:

all sons are going to be color blind

daughters are normal but carriers of the gene

When the father is color blind and the mother is not:

all sons are normal

all daughters are normal but carriers