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Modern Understandings of Inheritance

62 Introduction

Chromosomes are threadlike nuclear structures consisting of DNA and proteins that serve as the repositories for genetic information. The chromosomes depicted here were isolated from a fruit fly’s salivary gland, stained with dye, and visualized under a microscope. Akin to miniature bar codes, chromosomes absorb different dyes to produce characteristic banding patterns, which allows for their routine identification. (credit: modification of work by “LPLT”/Wikimedia Commons; scale-bar data from Matt Russell)

Electron micrograph shows a long, thin chromosome that has a banding pattern.

The gene is the physical unit of inheritance, and genes are arranged in a linear order on chromosomes. Chromosome behavior and interaction during meiosis explain, at a cellular level, inheritance patterns that we observe in populations. Genetic disorders involving alterations in chromosome number or structure may have dramatic effects and can prevent a fertilized egg from developing.


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Biology 2e by OpenStax Biology 2nd Edition is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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