History of Genetics and the Good & Bad of Genes
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History of Genetics and the Good & Bad of Genes

Genetics consists the study of genes, which is concerned with the diversity, replication, mutation, and translation of the information in the genes. Why is genetics important to our society? Can genetics be bad? This article will explain the history behind genetics and as well as good/bad information regarding our genes.

Genetics all started with an Austrian monk named Gregor Mendel, who wrote and published the result of his experiments on crosses in his pea garden in 1865. After his experiment was completed, Mendel found out that there are two different kinds of traits, dominant and recessive. From his peas experiment, the dominant traits were the color yellow, round shaped; while the recessive were the color green, wrinkly shaped. Therefore, Mendel discovered that each trait is determined by factors or as known as today by the name, genes.

In 1909, Wilhelm Johnannsen introduced the word gene, meaning “a molecular unit of heredity of a living organism.” All living things have millions of genes that lie in the strands of DNA, which are referred to as chromosomes. Humans have 46 chromosomes total (23 pairs of chromosomes). Genes play an important role, because they decide a person’s height, color of hair/skin, develop diseases, and external/internal looks when they are older. For example, if both the parents have brown hair, it is possible for the child to have blonde hair. This is due to have a “blond” recessive trait, the child’s grandparents’ hair color was blonde and that allele got passed on to the grandchild. Therefore, the parents have brown dominant traits while the child has a blond dominant trait.

Genetics are always good; mutations can occur which are changes in the genomic sequence, where a slight change in the chromosome could be fatal to someone’s life. For instance, a mutant gene can cause them to become albino (disease caused by partial absence of pigment in the skin). The pigment, melanin, production is affected by the genetic mutations. Melanocyte is important, because it gives skin, hair, and eye pigments to the next generation. Instead, albinism has complete loss of the skin, hair, and eye pigments.

Genetics is overall beneficial to society and research to help cure diseases. By detecting organisms that are prone to certain hereditary diseases, diseases can be prevented. By looking at the genetics code of a disease, researchers can see what causes the genetics mutation and will be able to fine a cure, or alternative way to resolve the mutation. That is why researchers today are working on experiments using lab mice to try different vaccines on them to see if they react to the vaccine in a positive or negative way. Even though we might not might an immediate cure for some diseases like cancer or diabetes, with the power of genetics we can help cure present diseases and even prevent future diseases.

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