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CHAPTER 13 - MEIOSIS AND SEXUAL LIFE CYCLES Introduction Living organisms are distinguished by their ability to reproduce their own kind. Offspring resemble their parents more than they do less closely related individuals of the same species. The transmission of traits from one generation to the next is called heredity or inheritance. However, offspring differ somewhat from parents and siblings, demonstrating variation . Genetics is the study of heredity and variation. A. An Introduction to Heredity 1. Offspring acquire genes from parents by inheriting chromosomes Parents endow their offspring with coded information in the form of genes . Your genome is derived from the thousands of genes that you inherited from your mother and your father. Genes program specific traits that emerge as we develop from fertilized eggs into adults. Your genome may include a gene for freckles, which you inherited from your mother. Genes are segments of DNA. Genetic information is transmitted as specific sequences of the four deoxyribonucleotides in DNA. This is analogous to the symbolic information of letters in which words and sentences are translated into mental images. Cells translate genetic “sentences” into freckles and other features with no resemblance to genes. Most genes program cells to synthesize specific enzymes and other proteins that produce an organism’s inherited traits. The transmission of hereditary traits has its molecular basis in the precise replication of DNA. This produces copies of genes that can be passed from parents to offspring. In plants and animals, sperm and ova (unfertilized eggs) transmit genes from one generation to the next. After fertilization (fusion) of a sperm cell with an ovum, genes from both parents are present in the nucleus of the fertilized egg. Almost all of the DNA in a eukaryotic cell is subdivided into chromosomes in the nucleus. Tiny amounts of DNA are found in mitochondria and chloroplasts. Every living species has a characteristic number of chromosomes. Humans have 46 in almost all of their cells. Each chromosome consists of a single DNA molecule in association with various proteins. Each chromosome has hundreds or thousands of genes, each at a specific location, its locus .
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2. Like begets like, more or less: a comparison of asexual and sexual reproduction In asexual reproduction , a single individual passes along copies of all its genes to its offspring. Single-celled eukaryotes reproduce asexually by mitotic cell division to produce two identical daughter cells. Even some multicellular eukaryotes, like hydra, can reproduce by budding cells produced by mitosis.
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This note was uploaded on 12/14/2009 for the course BIOCHEM bIO taught by Professor Professor during the Spring '09 term at École Normale Supérieure.

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