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

learn more… | top users | synonyms

58
votes
4answers
7k views

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 ...
35
votes
5answers
2k views

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? ...
28
votes
2answers
6k 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?
24
votes
4answers
624 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?
24
votes
2answers
576 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 ...
22
votes
4answers
10k 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 ...
20
votes
1answer
696 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 ...
19
votes
3answers
1k views

120-year-old gene regulation problem independently solved by a computer. How?

My Background: I'm a mathematics graduate student with a physics background. I have a very little biology knowledge and a little knowledge of machine learning and statistics. Topic: I recently ...
18
votes
2answers
345 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
votes
6answers
1k 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 ...
15
votes
5answers
9k views

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 ...
14
votes
2answers
363 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?
14
votes
5answers
2k views

Why are some genes dominant over others? 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 as well, what is the reason that my eye color is brown? How does one gene maintain ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

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
votes
2answers
329 views

Is the human biological clock genetically programmed or learnt?

Argument favouring learning: A newborn sleeps for 20-22 hours. But overtime (s)he learns to focus sleeping time to night time, according to his or her needs and family needs. Some sleep from 1 am to 7 ...
14
votes
2answers
5k 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. ...
14
votes
1answer
1k 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?
14
votes
1answer
732 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 ...
14
votes
1answer
206 views

Paralogous 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 ...
13
votes
1answer
346 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
333 views

Do transcription factors bind to both strands of DNA?

Do transcription factors (or generally proteins) bind to only single strand of DNA or both strands? Since it can have non covalent bonds to both strands in theory. I would like to know the mechanism. ...
12
votes
2answers
584 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?
12
votes
2answers
6k 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 ...
12
votes
2answers
379 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
votes
2answers
3k 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 ...
12
votes
1answer
251 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
votes
1answer
461 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
votes
1answer
581 views

Is the discovery of dominant and recessive genes the only reason Mendel matters?

We've known that offspring inherit various traits from their parents since (at least) Aristotle. In The Elements of Plant Hybridization, Gregor Mendel treats that fact as common knowledge. Clearly, we ...
11
votes
3answers
943 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 ...
11
votes
3answers
370 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
votes
1answer
3k 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 ...
11
votes
4answers
198 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?
11
votes
1answer
537 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 ...
11
votes
1answer
297 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, ...
11
votes
2answers
221 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
6k views

Why do we assume that the first humans were dark-skinned?

According to the article Dark skin and blue eyes: How Europeans once looked: It is widely accepted that Man's oldest common forefather was dark skinned, and that people became more pale as they ...
10
votes
4answers
861 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
votes
3answers
12k views

Do apes and humans share 99% of DNA or 99% of genes? What is the difference?

I made an answer on the Scifi.SE that can be read here. It is about how the characters in the story Jurassic Park might have gotten DNA for all the species shown. In my answer, I said this: Apes ...
10
votes
5answers
2k views

Do human cells contain only one copy of the genome?

Does each cell contain only a single copy of its genome? Or are there ever 'extra' copies present. Reason behind question: Wondering whether gene mutations could be corrected by referencing a ...
10
votes
3answers
948 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 ...
10
votes
4answers
11k views

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% ...
10
votes
1answer
817 views

Do I not have any alleles from my mom's mom & my dad's dad?

So, I have an XX, & I got an X from my mom, & an X from my dad. My dad would have gotten his only X from his mother, & my mother could have gotten the X I got from her father or mother. ...
10
votes
2answers
185 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
votes
2answers
251 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 ...
10
votes
2answers
357 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 ...
10
votes
1answer
111 views

Why do people with Down syndrome get fewer cancers?

I'm coming across some conflicting information regarding the correlation between cancer incidents and trisomy 21. I read a report from nature that discusses how Downs are only a tenth as likely to ...
10
votes
2answers
170 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
votes
2answers
205 views

Is the function of adjacent genes correlated?

Do genes that occupy a similar locus on the genome have correlated function, specifically in human beings? It is my understanding that adjacent genes are inherited together, and so location plays a ...
10
votes
1answer
205 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
votes
1answer
84 views

Are homozygous carriers of the CCR5-Δ32 allele fully immune to all known strains of HIV?

Or is there documented evidence of even one homozygous carrier contracting HIV and staying infected?