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Biology LibreTexts

1.1: Overview

Genetics – is the scientific study of heredity and the variation of inherited characteristics. It includes the study of genes, themselves, how they function, interact, and produce the visible and measurable characteristics we see in individuals and populations of species as they change from one generation to the next, over time, and in different environments.

Heredity – Humans have always been aware that the characteristics of an individual plant or animal in a population could be passed down through the generations. Offspring look more like their parents.Humans also knew that some heritable characteristics (such as the size or color of fruit) varied between individuals, and that they could select or breed crops and animals for the most favorable traits. Knowledge of these hereditary properties has been of significant value in the history of human development. In the past, humans could only manipulate and select from naturally existing combinations of genes. More recently, with the discovery of the substance and nature of genetic material, DNA, we can now identify, clone, and create novel, better combinations of genes that will serve our goals. Understanding the mechanisms of genetics is fundamental to using it wisely and for the betterment of all.