Previous pages have described how genetic information is passed along from parents to offspring. Mendel summarised this in his first law, the principle of segregation
Mendel's First Law
"The alleles of a gene exist in pairs but when gametes are formed, the members of each pair pass into different gametes. Thus each gamete contains only one allele of each gene."
When a particular gene possesses both dominant and recessive alleles, it is possible for incomplete dominance to occur, where the organism at hand expresses a phenotype morphed by the expression of both the dominant and recessive alleles.
In essence, heterozygous (possessing opposing alleles Rr) organisms derived from homozygous (possessing the same alleles RR or rr) are created, they possess a phenotype different to that of both their parents.
Some of the following examples of monohybrid and dihybrid crossing illustrate this incomplete dominance.
Diploid organisms naturally have a maximum of 2 alleles for each gene expressing a particular characteristic, one deriving from each parent. In some cases, however, more than two types of allele can code for a particular characteristic, as is the case of genetic coding for blood type in humans. Their are up to 6 possible genotypes that code for the four blood groups, A, B, AB and O.
Example of a Cross
The following dihybrid cross involves two true breeding pea plants, where two factors are looked at, the shape of the seed and the colour of the seed.
Summary of Mendelian Genetics
The past few pages have elaborated on the work of Gregor Mendel and how his work has paved the way to predicting the characteristics of offspring. However, a degree of randomness is involved, when involving factors such as independent assortment during meiosis and the possibility of genetic mutations (explained in further pages).
In light of this, Mendel's work allowed us to see that there is a degree of genetic inheritance from parents in offspring though modern biology indicates that more factors come into play to determine the final genotype and phenotype of an organism.
Sticking to the subject of genetics, the next page looks at sex determination via chromosomes X and Y and some of the genetic traits inherited via these two chromosomes.