What is genetics?
What is genetics?
Genetics (from ancient Greek γενετικός, ghenetikós, “relating to birth,” from γένεσις ghénesis, “genesis, origin”) is the branch of biology that studies genes, heredity and genetic variability in living organisms. The field of study of genetics thus focuses on understanding the mechanisms underlying these phenomena, which have been known since antiquity, along with embryology, but were not explained until the 19th century, thanks to the pioneering work of Gregor Mendel, considered for this reason the father of genetics. For he was the first, although he did not know of the existence of chromosomes and meiosis, to attribute to “traits” inherited independently from parental individuals, the property of determining the phenotype of the individual. In a modern view, the genetic information of organisms is contained within the chemical structure of DNA molecules.
The Mendelian “traits” of the individual correspond to sequences of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and RNA (ribonucleic acid) called genes found in the genome. Genes in fact contain the information to produce RNA molecules and proteins that enable the development and regulation of the traits to which they are related. Proteins are produced through transcription of DNA to RNA, which is transported to ribosomes by messenger RNA, which is translated into protein by the ribosomes. This process is known as the central dogma of molecular biology. Some genes are transcribed into RNA but do not become proteins, fulfilling fundamental biological functions.
Although genetics plays an important role in determining an individual’s appearance and behavior, it is his or her interaction with the environment that determines overall appearance. For this reason, identical twins, although having the same genetic makeup, may have different personalities.