Questions tagged [genetics]

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

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79
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3answers
19k views

Why 20 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 20 amino ...
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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?
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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?
34
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1answer
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How could a species be engineered to go extinct?

Non-biology background here. I read this very interesting article: https://www.wired.com/story/crispr-eradicate-invasive-species/ However I am having a hard time wrapping my head around something: ...
33
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6answers
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Biological siblings possible with <9 months age difference?

I'm currently in the middle of writing a story, and one of the story elements threw up a question for me. In this story, there are two siblings, who are only one or two months apart in age. As they ...
31
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2answers
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What makes a cancer contagious?

Most human cancers are not (very?) contagious (perhaps besides a couple of incidents). But the Tasmanian devil seems to have a form of cancer which is contagious. Now what makes the difference between ...
29
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1answer
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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 ...
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2answers
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Is it possible that by mutation a human could see infrared or other 'colours'?

Incoming light reacts with the several types of cone cells in the eye. In humans, there are three types of cones sensitive to three different spectra, resulting in trichromatic color vision. Each ...
28
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4answers
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Books on population or 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 ...
28
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2answers
853 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 ...
26
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4answers
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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 ...
25
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2answers
576 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 (...
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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. ...
23
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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 ...
23
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4answers
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Could we detect GMO foods if there were no samples to compare with?

In my understanding, there’s nothing “special” in how a GMO product is composed inside compared to a “natural” product. I mean, still, same principles apply to both: some DNA that controls protein ...
23
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4answers
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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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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 ...
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Why is a heritability coefficient not an index of how “genetic” something is?

On his blog, Eric Turkheimer writes: [T]aken as a number, a unit of analysis, heritability coefficients are funny things to aggregate on such a massive level. What exactly are we supposed to ...
21
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Does our DNA change during our lives?

As far as I know, DNA is the construction protocol of all organisms on Earth. Does it change when influenced by time and environment (physical laws)? As parents with schizophrenia are more likely to ...
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Are mutations a source of genetic variation?

Here is a question from the book SAT II Success Biology E/M (where the SAT is the exam taken by the American high school students): Which of the following statements is true about mutations? (A) ...
19
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6answers
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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 ...
19
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1answer
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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 involved?...
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6answers
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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 ...
18
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2answers
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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 ...
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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 (~15%...
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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 ...
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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 ...
17
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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 ...
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Do identical twins have the same fingerprint?

When there is every thing same from their genes to their phenotype so then why they don't have same fingerprints?
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why is DNA antiparallel? Can it be parallel?

My biology textbook mentions that DNA is antiparallel and it got me wondering... Can DNA be parallel? What would happen if it was parallel? could DNA still replicate right?
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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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Solving Hardy Weinberg problems

I really fail to understand Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium and can't find an easy enough source of information. Can you help me to understand Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium? My goal is to be able to solve ...
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2answers
479 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?
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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 ...
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Do men and women have the same number of genes?

As far as I know, humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, each one which contains a particular amount of genes. But in the "last" pair, men have a XY pair chromosome, and women have a XX pair chromosome. ...
15
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Evolutionarily speaking, why do humans have 46 chromosomes

In humans, each cell normally contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, for a total of 46. Monkeys, chimpanzees, and Apes have 24 pairs (twenty-four pairs), for a total of 48. What caused humans to have 46? ...
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3answers
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Validity of the August Weismann mouse-detailing experiment refuting Lamarckism

Weismann conducted the experiment — described in Wikipedia — of removing the tails of 68 white mice, repeatedly over 5 generations, and reporting that no mice were born in consequence without a tail ...
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Genetic linkage greater than 50 centimorgans

Classically, the linkage between two loci can be measured in centimorgans (cM), which represents the percent chance that these two loci will recombine an odd number of times (generating a recombinant ...
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3answers
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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 ...
15
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2answers
575 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 ...
15
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3answers
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Do men have a higher genetic variance than women?

I've heard that with the distribution of our genome women have less variation on the bell curve than men. Is there any basis for this? It was my understanding that women have more genetic variation ...
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3answers
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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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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% ...
14
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3answers
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Can genes change as we age?

Let's say you're a 23-year-old man who impregnates a woman. Will your genes be the same if you were to impregnate another woman at age 35? Will your genes in those 12 years have changed/mutated/become ...
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3answers
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Why doesn't recombination occur in male Drosophila?

"Males do not show meiotic recombination, facilitating genetic studies." For a while I have known that this phenomenon occurs, this quote comes from the Wikipedia page on Drosophila melanogaster, and ...
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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. ...
14
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1answer
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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 other—...
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3answers
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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 ...
14
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1answer
268 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 ...
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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 '...