Questions tagged [genetics]

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

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What's the evidence against SARS-CoV-2 being engineered by humans?

A couple of colleagues suggested in a discussion that the virus that causes COVID-19 appears to be made by humans, since nature could not have produced such an efficient virus — that spreads so fast ...
Alexei's user avatar
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83 votes
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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 ...
Daniel Standage's user avatar
54 votes
4 answers
9k 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?
Shep's user avatar
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35 votes
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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?
John Smith's user avatar
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34 votes
6 answers
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Why didn't Escobar's hippos introduced in a single event die out due to inbreeding

Today I read a BBC Report about how Pablo Escobar had once imported 4 hippos (1 male, 3 female) into his estate in Colombia for his private zoo. After his downfall, while other species were shipped ...
RedBaron's user avatar
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32 votes
6 answers
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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 ...
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32 votes
2 answers
5k views

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 ...
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32 votes
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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 ...
hello_there_andy's user avatar
32 votes
1 answer
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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: ...
Nathan H's user avatar
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2 answers
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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 ...
Marijn 's user avatar
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Does the genetic sequence of SARS-CoV-2 end with 33 A's?

Looking at the DNA (or RNA?) sequence of the Covid-19 virus here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/nuccore/MN908947.3 I notice it ends in 33 a's. Does the virus really look like that, or is it some ...
Grumdrig's user avatar
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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 ...
John Smith's user avatar
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29 votes
1 answer
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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 ...
Shep's user avatar
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27 votes
5 answers
61k 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. ...
cdmckay's user avatar
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26 votes
4 answers
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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 ...
cpx's user avatar
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26 votes
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5k views

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 ...
user1205901 - Слава Україні's user avatar
25 votes
6 answers
37k 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 ...
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25 votes
2 answers
658 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 (...
Chris Wenham's user avatar
24 votes
3 answers
6k views

How likely is a lack of DNA match with a distant relative?

How likely is a lack of DNA match with a distant relative? I have recently gotten interested in ancestry research and have had a DNA analysis performed by a prominent commercial provider. I've been ...
carsten's user avatar
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24 votes
3 answers
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If a small population left one continent and sailed to another, would the genes of the population that left show relation to the original population?

This question has a specific context, a religious one, and so I'm not sure this is the right place to ask, but I can't think of a better place. I would like as objective and unbiased an answer as ...
TKoL's user avatar
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23 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
Christian Bueno's user avatar
23 votes
4 answers
2k 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?
ghchinoy's user avatar
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22 votes
4 answers
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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 ...
Meglio's user avatar
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22 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
Flux's user avatar
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22 votes
1 answer
2k views

Do some genes follow Rock-Paper-Scissors model of dominance?

Assuming there are at least 3 alleles of the gene $G$ in total - $G_R$, $G_S$ and $G_P$ - is there any gene for which the following is true? $G_R$ is more dominant than $G_S$. $G_S$ is more dominant ...
rus9384's user avatar
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21 votes
3 answers
16k views

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 correctly?
Alex Stacks's user avatar
20 votes
4 answers
5k views

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) ...
Elena Kolumba's user avatar
20 votes
6 answers
6k 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 ...
caeruleus's user avatar
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19 votes
4 answers
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Do all humans have an identical nucleotide sequence for certain proteins, e.g haemoglobin?

All humans have the same sort of proteins in our bodies. Take haemoglobin for example. Is the gene coding for haemoglobin in my body identical to everyone else's gene or is there slight variations ...
Burtyboy80's user avatar
19 votes
2 answers
61k 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 ...
anomal's user avatar
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19 votes
1 answer
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What would cause red-haired people to become fewer?

There is this misconception that red-haired people are going to die out. This person on the Internet ("howstuffworks") also connected it to a marketing campaign of a hair dyer company. But I'...
akraf's user avatar
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19 votes
5 answers
21k 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 (~15%...
Patrick87's user avatar
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18 votes
2 answers
17k views

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 ...
Thomas's user avatar
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18 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
Mitradip Das's user avatar
18 votes
1 answer
2k 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 involved?...
Gergana Vandova's user avatar
17 votes
6 answers
2k 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 ...
John Smith's user avatar
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17 votes
3 answers
4k 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 ...
tom's user avatar
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17 votes
4 answers
7k 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 ...
Özgür's user avatar
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17 votes
2 answers
9k views

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?
user4147's user avatar
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17 votes
2 answers
17k views

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 ...
Superbest's user avatar
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17 votes
2 answers
3k 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?
John Smith's user avatar
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16 votes
4 answers
61k views

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? ...
Gabriel Fair's user avatar
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16 votes
2 answers
561 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?
Gabriel Fair's user avatar
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16 votes
2 answers
7k 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 ...
Gergana Vandova's user avatar
15 votes
5 answers
11k views

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. ...
Pablo's user avatar
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15 votes
6 answers
14k views

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 ...
Green's user avatar
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15 votes
2 answers
51k views

Why do these 2 dots frequently occur in dogs' eyebrows? Does it serve/served any advantage?

I have been wondering why, in spite of the variation in color-patterning in dogs, these 2 dots (1 on each eyebrow) seems to be frequently occurring. Dog-1: This one has a white dot. Photographed from ...
user avatar
15 votes
2 answers
676 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 ...
user4673's user avatar
  • 338
15 votes
1 answer
717 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 other—...
Douglas S. Stones's user avatar
15 votes
3 answers
6k views

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 ...
Sonny Ordell's user avatar

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