Genetics Basics

Genes and Proteiins
Each chromosome contains many genes, the basic physical and functional units of heredity. Genes are specific sequences of bases that encode instructions on how to make proteins. Credit: Office of Biological and Environmental Research of the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science

Genetics Basics

Have you ever wondered why you have the same eye color as your mother or the same hair color as your father? Genetics is the study of inheritance or heredity. Genetics helps to explain how traits are passed from parents to their young. Parents pass traits to their young through gene transmission. Genes are located on chromosomes and consist of DNA. They contain specific instructions for protein synthesis.

Genetics Basics Resources

Understanding certain genetic concepts can be difficult for beginners. Below are several helpful resources that will assist in the understanding of basic genetic principles.

Gene Inheritance

Genes and Chromosomes

  • Chromosomes and Sex
    Introduction to the basics of sex determination by the presence or absence of certain chromosomes.
  • Gene Mutations
    A gene mutation is any change that occurs in the DNA. These changes can be beneficial to, have some effect on, or be seriously detrimental to an organism.
  • Four Cute Features Caused by Gene Mutations
    Did you know that cute features such as dimples and freckles are caused by gene mutations? These traits can either be inherited or acquired.
  • Genetic Recombination
    In genetic recombination, genes on chromosomes are recombined to produce organisms with new gene combinations.
  • Genetic Variation
    In genetic variation, the alleles of organisms within a population change. This change may result from mutation, gene flow, or sexual reproduction.
  • Sex Chromosome Abnormalities
    Sex chromosome abnormalities occur as a result of chromosome mutations brought on by mutagens or problems that occur during meiosis.

Genes and Protein Synthesis

Mitosis and Meiosis

  • DNA Replication
    DNA replication is the process of copying the DNA within our cells. This process is a necessary step in mitosis and meiosis.
  • The Cell Cycle of Growth
    Cells grow and replicate through an ordered series of events called the cell cycle.
  • Stage-By-Stage Guide to Mitosis
    This guide to the phases of mitosis explores the reproduction of cells. In mitosis, chromosomes are duplicated and divided evenly between two daughter cells.
  • Stages of Meiosis
    This stage-by-stage guide to the phases of meiosis provides details about the events that occur in each of the stages of meiosis I and meiosis II.
  • 7 Differences Between Mitosis and Meiosis
    Cells divide either through the process of mitosis or meiosis. Sex cells are produced through meiosis, while all other body cell types are produced through mitosis.