Genetics is the branch of biology that deals with the transmission and variation of inherited characteristics.

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Why 22 amino acids instead of 64?

This question got me thinking about amino acids and the ambiguity in the genetic code. With 4 nucleotides in RNA and 3 per codon, there are 64 codons. However, these 64 codons only code for 22 ...
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2answers
4k views

What is the advantage of circular DNA in bacteria?

From what I understand, bacteria have circular DNA. What advantages does it have over linear strands like for eukaryotes? Do there exist bacteria with more than one ring of DNA?
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4answers
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Why do men have nipples?

I'd be tempted to call nipples in men vestigial, but that suggests they have no modern function. They do have a function, of course, but only in women. So why do men (and all male mammals) have them? ...
23
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496 views

How are the boundaries of a gene determined?

What statistical processes and methods are used by geneticists/molecular biologists to know where one gene starts and one ends?
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4answers
6k views

How many genes do we share with our mother?

Somewhere I have read we share more than 99% of our genes with every other other person and 98% of our genes with chimpanzees. What does this mean? Don't we share 50% of our genes with our mother and ...
18
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2answers
398 views

Smallest viable reproducing population

What is the smallest viable reproducing population, such as in a human population. By viable I mean a population which keeps genetic defects low (enough). A very strongly related question: what is ...
18
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1answer
501 views

Do trees age on a microscopic level?

Most animals age via at least two mechinisms: at a "macroscopic" level, basically wear and tear to the point where (on evolutionary time scales) it's more genetically advantageous to optimize for ...
17
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2answers
321 views

Can an adult without genetic lactase persistence still develop a tolerance for dairy foods?

While investigating the rise of adult lactose tolerance, I came across the news that China has been encouraging its citizens to drink more milk, even though most of the Asian population lacks the SNP ...
15
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6answers
888 views

Could Junk DNA be used as a Turing Machine by nature?

In what ways has DNA been studied to see if there a "programmable" aspect to it? Has nature produced anything resembling a Turing machine within the cell, perhaps using the "junk DNA" as its code? I ...
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Can two humans with 44 chromosomes produce viable offspring?

It is known that there are very few individuals having 44 chromosomes, not the usual 46 chromosomes. One example is a male in China: the first article, the second article. The other is a female in ...
14
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1answer
918 views

What is the smallest number of amino acids required for life?

Is there any hypothesis on the minimum number of amino acids required for life?
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2answers
2k views

How many people are required to maintain genetic diversity?

Imagine humans were to colonize a distant planet and it was a single one-way trip. How many people would they need to bring? Obviously 2 is the minimum, but that would result in a lot of inbreeding. ...
13
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5answers
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Origin, or source, of rhesus negative in human blood

This is my first post here, so please be gentle. I recently learned that I have Rh- blood (I'm A-), and was idly looking into blood types on Wikipedia. I was surprised to find that relatively few ...
13
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0answers
157 views

paralogue genes in genome-wide association studies?

Has anybody tested if paralogous genes are over-represented among the genes identified by genome-wide association studies (GWAS)? For example, if a GWAS study finds 200 genes associated to the ...
12
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2answers
278 views

Why was it so hard to decode the corn genome?

My teachers growing up told me it was impossible to decode the maize genome. But yet its been done. Why was decoding the genome so significant, and what made it so difficult?
12
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1answer
563 views

How many people's DNA were involved in the compilation of the reference human genome?

I know that the reference human genome is complied from DNA portions from different people, most of whom were European. Do you know how many of them were involved? Do you know which ones were ...
12
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2answers
346 views

Is there any reason for the variation in mitochondrial DNA size?

As my textbook An Introduction to Genetic Analysis points out, yeast mitochondrial DNA has approximately 78 kb of genetic data, while the human mitochondrial DNA contains 17 kb. Is there any evolution ...
12
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1answer
168 views

Have any mutations or genetic loci been associated with exceptional longevity in humans?

Individuals that avoid age-related diseases into later life are known as 'exceptional survivors', and have increased longevity compared to their 'controls' (those that were born at a similar time, yet ...
12
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1answer
340 views

How are epigenetic marks transmitted during cell division?

As far as I know, this is one of the biggest questions in the epigenetic field: how are the epigenetic marks like histone modifications propagated through cell division? A lot is already known about ...
11
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3answers
305 views

Number of beneficial mutations cataloged?

I can see from Wikipedia that there are possibly thousands of harmful mutations that have been cataloged and linked to disease. There are also unnumbered neutral mutations. But, does anyone know how ...
11
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2answers
468 views

What are limiting factors for intron length?

For predicting genes from a sequenced genome, you need to set a maximum intron length. How long can introns get in animals? Is there some limit?
11
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4answers
152 views

Is there any other function of DNA?

We all know that DNA acts as a genetic molecule. Does DNA have any other function in the cell other than being a genetic material and carrier of information?
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4answers
4k views

Do white Australians have a distinct look?

Background I've heard from many people working in tourism or similar industries that, white Australians can be recognized as Australian solely by their facial features. Being Australian myself I've ...
11
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1answer
291 views

How do members of cryptic species know who to mate with?

According to Wikipedia: In biology, a cryptic species complex is a group of species which satisfy the biological definition of species—that is, they are reproductively isolated from each ...
10
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4answers
668 views

“Same” DNA vs genes

It is often cited that humans share 99% (or 98%) of their DNA with chimpanzees. On the other hand it is stated that siblings share only half of their genes. What (if any) is the difference between ...
10
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3answers
558 views

Mathematical Modelling of Natural Selection

I'm a math undergrad looking for some papers on modelling the process of natural selection. The only paper I've been able to find is by the pre-eminent mathematician Herbert Wilf from 2010, There's ...
10
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4answers
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Do we get 1/4 of our genes from each grandparent?

I know that we get half of our genes from each parent, but does it necessarily mean we get 1/4 of our genes from each grandparent? Or is it possible that we might get say 30% from one grandparent, 20% ...
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2answers
165 views

Is there an “evolutionary species similarity calculator”?

Is there a website where I can input pairs of species and get an "evolutionary similarity score"? E.g. (numbers are completely made up) Input: Chimp and Human, Output: 97% Input: Cat and Human, ...
10
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2answers
214 views

Overlapping genetic information in eukaryotes

In my research, I look at a lot of gene predictions / annotations. Frequently, I see loci where multiple gene models overlap. I haven't taken a systematic approach to analyzing these cases, but I do ...
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2answers
160 views

What is the Edward O. Wilson fuss about?

I have just read this article on E. O. Wilson and I don't understand what the difference is between what he is arguing and "standard" natural selection. I read "the extended phenotype" some years ago ...
10
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1answer
329 views

What is the functional and structural distinction between core (H2A, H2B, H3,H4) and linker(H1/H5) histones?

Many explanations of histone biochemistry isn't quite elucidating for the undergraduate student. How does histone structure (dimers, octomers) relate to their specific functions as core or linker ...
10
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1answer
168 views

How can you identify if a person is homozygous for a certain allele?

I've been thinking about starting a small private research project. In this project I need to find out whether a person is homozygous for a certain allele. The reason for this is that I'm really ...
10
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1answer
241 views

Does the genetic expression of specific physical traits ever correlate to behaviour?

Over at skeptics, there were a couple questions asked as to the correlation of specific physical traits in relation to personality/behaviour. For instance, the simian line as well as red hair. Now, ...
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2answers
169 views

Have any genetically altered organisms actually become abundant in a natural environment?

Most of the things that come up in Google and Google Scholar for this question have a mostly/completely speculative tone, or at best use models instead of measurements. This report describes some ...
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3answers
328 views

Athletes: nature vs. nurture?

Having watched a lot of olympians the last few weeks, I was struck by how many of them have actually spent their wholes lives/careers training for their one event (be in running a marathon, or ...
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8k views

Is it possible for a brown eyed parent to have blue eyed child?

Here's the story: A young man has stunning blue eyes. On his mother's side are lots of instances of blue eyes, but on his father's side is no history of blue eyes. When he was born with these bright ...
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4answers
2k views

Does the DNA sequence of a butterfly match that of the caterpillar it used to be?

Just had this thought occur to me. If one were to take a DNA sample(or is it RNA?) of a caterpillar before it became a chrysalis, and attempt to match the sample against one taken after the chrysalis ...
9
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3answers
208 views

Book recommendation on population/evolutionary genetics?

I have recently been involved in collaborations that require me to model the population genetics of eukaryotic populations. I fear I may either be "re-inventing the wheel" or making conceptual ...
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3answers
1k views

Why some genes are dominant to each other? What is the mechanism behind it?

If i have a brown eye gene which encodes the protein that is responsible for the brown color, and have a blue eye gene either, what is the reason that my eye color is brown? How does one gene ...
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Difference between genetic engineering and synthetic biology

I've recently seen the term synthetic biology being used to describe research involving genetic modification of organisms. What is the difference between synthetic biology and genetic engineering? Is ...
9
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1answer
2k views

On the genetics behind caste marriages

I am in India where it is typically a custom to marry within one's caste. Basically the caste system originated with roots in people's professions - Each of priests, carpenters, troupers, etc had a ...
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2answers
268 views

Are there differences in DNA between humans of today and humans from 2000 years ago?

Are there any significant differences in our genome compared to the genes of our ancestors from 1000-2000 years ago? And if there are significant differences, do they result in significant ...
9
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1answer
167 views

How are new people created from the DNA of an aged person. i.e. Why are we young?

The question "why do we age" has been asked numerous times. But why are we young? The cells of the adult human being are an age (time>0), but how can old cells create new cells that are younger than ...
9
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1answer
78 views

Relative Property of Alleles

If there are three different alleles to a gene, is it possible that the first is dominant to the second, but recessive to the third?
9
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1answer
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What determines testosterone exposure in womb, baby's genetics or mom's body?

I read this article which has the following quote: The ratio between index and ring finger is believed to be linked to exposure to the male hormone testosterone in the womb. And I wonder what ...
9
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2answers
265 views

Do twins “run in the family”?

My wife and I recently found out that we are going to have twins and so nearly everyone asks if we have a family history of twins. Now I know that the answer for me is that it doesn't matter—as ...
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2answers
2k views

How is eye color in humans inherited?

In high school we studied the inheritance of eye color, as it was explained to us in the most simple way: blue eye color is a recessive, monogenic, autosomal trait. Now I know that it is a bit more ...
9
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2answers
430 views

Which bacteria have the highest mutation rate?

From my reading on M. tuberculosis, I know that this organism has a pretty high mutation rate due to uncorrected sloppy replication, which leads to a high rate of development of spontaneous resistance ...
9
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1answer
91 views

Which patterns do I have to avoid when modifying the 3'-UTR?

I want to change a pre-miRNA sequence (in my case the pre-miRNA is encoding in a 3'UTR of a gene) and then put it in a lentivirus to see if it is still processed. After modification (permutation of ...
9
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1answer
248 views

Did the eugenics program in Nazi Germany have a measurable effect? [closed]

Did the killing or sterilisation of people considered as living a "life unworthy of life" in Nazi Germany have any measurable effect on the "average health" of Germany? Is there any statistical ...