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Occurrences Or Events That Cannot Be Explained Using The Rules Of Genetics

800 words - 4 pages

Every good scientist needs background information and research before studying the mysteries of science. In this case when researching Epigenetics, it is vital to understand the basic structure of DNA and the roles of genes and chromosomes. DNA is assembled as a Double Helix [Figure 1], meaning two parallel helices (a three dimensional shape like a spiral) twisted or interlaced around the same point. The DNA’s ‘Outer Walls’ are made of alternating phosphates and sugars. The base pairs found in DNA are composed of Adenine, Thymine, Guanine, and Cytosine [Figure 2]. When corresponding with each other on either side of the Double Helix, Adenine pairs with Thymine and Guanine pairs with Cytosine [Figure 2]. Now that you have a basic grasp of the structure of DNA, let’s look at the importance of genes and chromosomes. Genes are crucial because of many things, one of which is that it decides your traits. Traits are characteristics that you inherit from you parents. Genes are found in your cell’s Chromosomes [Figure 3]. Chromosomes are string-like complexes found in a cell’s nucleus (the ‘brain’ of the cell) [Figure 4].

Now that you have a basic understanding of DNA, genes and chromosomes, it’s time to introduce Epigenetics! Epigenetics can refer to anything from occurrences or events that cannot be explained using the rules of genetics to changes, modifications, or manipulations in your DNA. Conrad Waddington [Figure 5], founder of the term Epigenetics defines it as “the branch of biology that specifically studies the interaction between genes and their products”. In simpler terms, this means scientists study the effects different genes can have on a living thing. The interest in the manipulation and effect of genes can date back to Gregor Mendal’s famous pea plant experiment [Figure 6] which discovered recessive and dominant traits, but the specific term and study of Epigenetics started approximately fifty years ago when people started to link many illnesses to genetic mutations. One of the most significant impact Epigenetics has on human life is that in some cases, it is a cause of cancer.

Epigenetics is very dangerous, but there are certain studies that show there are some benefits. Though it is a likely cause of cancer, scientists are testing ways to turn Epigenetics into an anti-ontogenesis. Ontogenesis refers to the creation...

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