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Genetics: Terms and definitions

A list of terms used in the Mendel and inheritance theme.

Allele

An alternative form of a gene.

Anthocyanins

Pigments responsible for red, purple or blue colours in plants.

Biolistics

Using a particle bombardment system, like a gene gun, to deliver DNA into a cell.

Biosynthesis

The production of a new molecule by a living organism.

Dominant

An allele that will be phenotypically expressed if it is present.

Gamete

Male or female reproductive cells – a sperm or egg in animals, and pollen and ova in plants.

Gene

A piece of DNA that carries the information needed to make a specific protein.

Gene gun

A laboratory tool used to propel (or shoot) a gene (or other piece of DNA) into a cell at high energy. The aim is that the target cell will incorporate the new DNA and start using it.

Heterozygous

When alleles at the same locus are different.

Homozygous

When alleles at the same locus are identical.

Hybrid

The progeny of cross-breeding 2 pure-breeding lines.

Genotype

(Noun) The genetic make-up of a cell or organism.

(Verb) To identify aspects of an individual’s genetic make-up by using DNA sequence information.

Locus

The location of a gene or DNA sequence on a chromosome (plural: loci).

Phenotype

Observable traits or characteristics of an organism.

Pure-breeding

When mated with their own kind, all the offspring resemble their parents.

Recessive

An allele that will be phenotypically expressed when both copies of the allele are identical.

Trait

Characteristic, usually a physical characteristic of a living organism, such as the height of a plant or the hair colour of a mammal.

Transcription factor

A protein that switches the expression of genes on and off.

Metadata

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