What is Genetics? | Types, Definition, Structure, Function & Facts

What is Genetics?

Genetics is the study of genes and heredity. It studies how living organisms, including humans, inherit traits from their parents. Genetics is often considered a part of the biological sciences. Scientists who study genetics are called geneticists.

What are Genes?

Gene is the basic unit of heredity. They are made up of DNA and are part of a larger structure called a chromosome. Genes carry information that determines which traits are inherited from an organism’s parents. They determine characteristics such as your hair color, height, and eye color.

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What are Chromosomes?

Chromosomes are small structures inside cells made up of DNA and proteins. The information in the chromosomes acts like a formula that tells the cells how to function. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes for a total of 46 chromosomes in each cell. Other plants and animals have different numbers of chromosomes. For example, a pea has 14 chromosomes and an elephant has 56.

What is DNA?

The actual instructions inside the chromosome are stored in a long molecule called DNA. DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid.

Gregor Mendel

Gregor Mendel is considered the father of genetics. Mendel was a scientist in the 1800s who studied genetics by experimenting with pea plants in his garden. Through his experiments, he was able to show inheritance patterns and demonstrate that traits are inherited from parents.

Interesting Facts about Genetics

Two people typically share about 99.9% of the same genetic material. It is the 0.1% material that makes them different.
The structure of the DNA molecule was discovered by scientists Francis Crick and James Watson.

Humans share about 90% of genetic material with mice and 98% with chimpanzees.

Almost every cell in the human body contains a complete copy of the human genome.

We get 23 chromosomes from our mother and 23 from our father.

Some diseases are inherited through genes.

Doctors may be able to cure diseases in the future by replacing bad DNA with good DNA with a process called gene therapy.

DNA is a very long molecule and there are many DNA molecules in the human body. If you decode all the DNA molecules in your body, they will reach the Sun and back again and again.

Some inherited traits are determined by a number of different genes.

DNA molecules have a specific shape called a double helix.