Engaging in popular science, you may have come across terms like turning genes on or off. Let's say spring comes, and trees turn on genes for growth and leaf sprouting, while animals turn on genes to be, well, turned on. But does it ever cross your mind what it means to turn a gene on or off? Is there a switch? Sort of, but let's find out. The short answer: genes are … [Read more...] about How body turns genes on and off
You may have heard that genes are responsible for everything right and wrong with you. Genes determine whether you can tie your shoes, how long your neck is, and whether you pour cereal into the bowl before or after the milk. Even more so, only a tiny difference in your genes determines if you are a human or a chimp. But do you know what a gene is? Here, I will give a … [Read more...] about What is a gene? A simplified explanation
While most of us recognize DNA as a blueprint to make life, not everyone knows that it also stores our genetic information and is a basis for inheritance. For offspring to inherit their parents' traits, the DNA must be copied in a process known as DNA replication. And that is not all. Your body must copy the whole DNA each time your cells divide. And that happens an … [Read more...] about How does DNA replication work?
You might have heard and been amazed about the fact that DNA is a long list of the letters A, C, G, and T, which make up our genes and those of other species. But what is DNA, and is it indeed made of letters? Of course they're not letters. DNA, also famous as DeoxyriboNucleic Acid, is a long chain of molecules--letters serve only as convenient abbreviations for parts of it, … [Read more...] about What is DNA and why is it made of letters?
It's easy to calculate how many genes you share with your parents, children, siblings, and other relatives. Given the fact that parents pass half of their genes to their children, and siblings share half of their genes, the rest is just math. To determine this, you just have to divide genetic relatedness each time you go up or down a step in a family tree, or sideways. For … [Read more...] about How many genes do you share with your relatives?
Genes define who we are, at least in a physical sense, since they determine our traits. A tiny difference in DNA can specify whether we are a human or a chimp. But how does it work? How can genes, fragments of DNA determine traits? How can genes, for example, determine your eye color, height or even what flowers you like? Let's find out. What are genes? To understand … [Read more...] about How do genes determine your traits?
Depending on who you ask, humans and chimps share 96 to 99 percent of genes. Yet we look staggeringly different. Or do we? Since genes alter our traits, we would expect organisms with so much of their genome identical, also look similar, right? Well, yes, but no. Let's initially put aside the fact that we might not be so different from chimps after all. We indeed are … [Read more...] about Why humans and chimps look different if 99% of their genes are identical?
You may have heard that we humans have 23 chromosome pairs, whereas our closest neighbors chimpanzees have 24 — one pair more. Do we have to worry that humans have fewer chromosomes than chimps do? What is the function of those extra chromosomes that chimps need and we don't? Let's find out. In reality, while we have fewer chromosomes, it does not mean we have less … [Read more...] about Chromosome fusion: Why humans have fewer chromosomes than chimps