Understanding the weird world of genes

genes

Pretty much everyone, at least in societies with access to public education or exposure to media in its various forms, has been introduced to the idea of the gene, but “exposure does not equate to understanding.”

Through his studies on peas, Gregor Mendel was the first to clearly identify some of the rules for the behavior of these inheritable factors using highly stereotyped, and essentially discontinuous traits – a pea was either yellow or green, wrinkled or smooth. 

Understanding such processes is critical to appreciating the fact that genetics is often not destiny, but rather alterations in probabilities…Without such an more nuanced and realistic understanding, it can be difficult to make sense of genetic information.

Related article:  Searching for ALS genes in Appalachian Mountain family trees

Genes are not static objects, but key parts of dynamic systems. This may be one reason that classical genetics, that is genes presented within a simple Mendelian (gene to trait) framework, should be moved deeper into the curriculum, where students have the background in molecular mechanisms needed to appreciate its complexities, complexities that arise from the multiple molecular machines acting to access, modify, and use the information captured in DNA (through evolutionary processes), thereby placing the gene in a more realistic cellular perspective.

Read full, original post: Genes – way weirder than you thought

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