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Salli Richardson-Whitfield - IMDb
Heredity of phenotypic traits: Father and son with prominent ears and crowns. Bases are in the centre, surrounded by phosphate—sugar chains in a double helix.
In humans, eye color is an example of an inherited characteristic: These traits arise from the interaction of its genotype with the environment. However, some people tan more easily than others, due to differences in their genotype: The sequence of bases along a particular DNA molecule specifies the genetic information: A portion of a DNA molecule that specifies a single functional unit is called a gene ; different genes have different sequences of bases.
Within cells , the long strands of DNA form condensed structures called chromosomes. Organisms inherit genetic material from their parents in the form of homologous chromosomes , containing a unique combination of DNA sequences that code for genes.
The specific location of a DNA sequence within a chromosome is known as a locus. If the DNA sequence at a particular locus varies between individuals, the different forms of this sequence are called alleles. DNA sequences can change through mutations , producing new alleles.
If a mutation occurs within a gene, the new allele may affect the trait that the gene controls, altering the phenotype of the organism.
These phenomena are classed as epigenetic inheritance systems that are causally or independently evolving over genes. Research into modes and mechanisms of epigenetic inheritance is still in its scientific infancy, however, this area of research has attracted much recent activity as it broadens the scope of heritability and evolutionary biology in general. For example, ecological inheritance through the process of niche construction is defined by the regular and repeated activities of organisms in their environment.
This generates a legacy of effect that modifies and feeds back into the selection regime of subsequent generations. Descendants inherit genes plus environmental characteristics generated by the ecological actions of ancestors.
Evolution When Charles Darwin proposed his theory of evolution in , one of its major problems was the lack of an underlying mechanism for heredity. Blending inheritance would lead to uniformity across populations in only a few generations and then would remove variation from a population on which natural selection could act. Scientists in Antiquity had a variety of ideas about heredity: Theophrastus proposed that male flowers caused female flowers to ripen;  Hippocrates speculated that "seeds" were produced by various body parts and transmitted to offspring at the time of conception;  and Aristotle thought that male and female fluids mixed at conception.
The Doctrine of Epigenesis and the Doctrine of Preformation were two distinct views of the understanding of heredity. The Doctrine of Epigenesis, originated by Aristotle , claimed that an embryo continually develops.
Heredity - Wikipedia
The foundation of this doctrine was based on the theory of inheritance of acquired traits. The Preformationist view believed procreation was an act of revealing what had been created long before.
However, this was disputed by the creation of the cell theory in the 19th century, where the fundamental unit of life is the cell, and not some preformed parts of an organism. Various hereditary mechanisms, including blending inheritance were also envisaged without being properly tested or quantified, and were later disputed.
Nevertheless, people were able to develop domestic breeds of animals as well as crops through artificial selection. The inheritance of acquired traits also formed a part of early Lamarckian ideas on evolution. During the 18th century, Dutch microscopist Antonie van Leeuwenhoek — discovered "animalcules" in the sperm of humans and other animals. These scientists formed a school of thought known as the "spermists".
They contended the only contributions of the female to the next generation were the womb in which the homunculus grew, and prenatal influences of the womb.
Ovists thought women carried eggs containing boy and girl children, and that the gender of the offspring was determined well before conception. Modern synthesis 20th century The idea of particulate inheritance of genes can be attributed to the Moravian  monk Gregor Mendel who published his work on pea plants in However, his work was not widely known and was rediscovered in It was initially assumed that Mendelian inheritance only accounted for large qualitative differences, such as those seen by Mendel in his pea plants—and the idea of additive effect of quantitative genes was not realised until R.
His pea plant demonstration became the foundation of the study of Mendelian Traits. These traits can be traced on a single locus.
History of genetics and History of evolutionary thought In the s, work by Fisher and others resulted in a combination of Mendelian and biometric schools into the modern evolutionary synthesis. The modern synthesis bridged the gap between experimental geneticists and naturalists; and between both and palaeontologists, stating that: Discontinuities amongst species or other taxa are explained as originating gradually through geographical separation and extinction not saltation.
Selection is overwhelmingly the main mechanism of change; even slight advantages are important when continued. The object of selection is the phenotype in its surrounding environment.
The role of genetic drift is equivocal; though strongly supported initially by Dobzhansky , it was downgraded later as results from ecological genetics were obtained.
The primacy of population thinking: The strength of natural selection in the wild was greater than expected; the effect of ecological factors such as niche occupation and the significance of barriers to gene flow are all important.
The idea that speciation occurs after populations are reproductively isolated has been much debated. There is no doubt, however, that the synthesis was a great landmark in evolutionary biology. Trofim Lysenko however caused a backlash of what is now called Lysenkoism in the Soviet Union when he emphasised Lamarckian ideas on the inheritance of acquired traits.
This movement affected agricultural research and led to food shortages in the s and seriously affected the USSR.