Introduction to Genetic Analysis 655

Introduction to Genetic Analysis 655 - 20.6 The...

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Unformatted text preview: 20.6 The heritability of a quantitative character The most basic question that we can ask about a quan- titative character is whether the observed variation in that character is influenced by genes at all. It is impor- tant to note that this question is not the same as asking whether genes play any role in the characters develop- ment. Gene-mediated developmental processes lie at the base of every character, but variation in a character from individual to individual is not necessarily the re- sult of genetic variation. For example, the ability to speak any language at all depends critically on the struc- tures of the central nervous system as well as on the vo- cal cords, tongue, mouth, and ears, which depend in turn on many genes in the human genome. There is no environment in which cows will speak. But, although the particular language that is spoken by humans varies from nation to nation, this variation is not genetic. A character is said to be heritable only if there is genetic variation in that character.variation in that character....
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