Genes are the basic unit of heredity. Your genes determine your traits, like your eye color, hair color, blood type, and more. Genes are found on chromosomes, which are tiny threadlike structures inside the nucleus of a cell.
When a sperm fertilizes an egg, their chromosomes combine. This is why children inherit traits from both their father and mother. Use this information to research the answers to the following questions.
- Your sex is determined by your sex chromosomes. Which combination of sex chromosomes results in a female fetus? Which combination results in a male fetus?
- You inherit a pair of genes for each one of your traits. One of the genes in the pair comes from your mother, and the other comes from your father. Some genes are dominant, which means they will usually be evident in a person’s physical traits. Other genes are recessive. Recessive genes will only be evident if the other gene in the pair is also recessive. Suppose a fetus inherits a dominant gene for brown eyes from its mother and a recessive gene for blue eyes from its father. What color eyes will the baby have? Explain.
- Genetic disorders are diseases that are inherited. Sickle-cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, and Down syndrome are three common genetic disorders. Choose one of these diseases and research the genetic basis of the disease as well as how the disease can affect a person who inherits it.
- Based on your research, explain the significance of genetics to fetal development.