Genetics is the study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity in organisms. It is an important branch in biology because heredity is vital to organisms' evolution. Gregor Mendel, a Moravian Augustinian friar working in the 19th century in Brno, was the first to study genetics scientifically. Mendel studied "trait inheritance", patterns in the way traits are handed down from parents to offspring over time. He observed that organisms (pea plants) inherit traits by way of discrete "units of inheritance". This term, still used today, is a somewhat ambiguous definition of what is referred to as a gene.Trait inheritance and molecular inheritance mechanisms of genes are still primary principles of genetics in the 21st century, but modern genetics has expanded to study the function and behavior of genes. Gene structure and function, variation, and distribution are studied within the context of the cell, the organism (e.g. dominance), and within the context of a population. Genetics has given rise to a number of subfields, including molecular genetics, epigenetics and population genetics. Organisms studied within the broad field span the domains of life (archaea, bacteria, and eukarya).Genetic processes work in combination with an organism's environment and experiences to influence development and behavior, often referred to as nature versus nurture. The intracellular or extracellular environment of a living cell or organism may switch gene transcription on or off. A classic example is two seeds of genetically identical corn, one placed in a temperate climate and one in an arid climate (lacking sufficient waterfall or rain). While the average height of the two corn stalks may be genetically determined to be equal, the one in the arid climate only grows to half the height of the one in the temperate climate due to lack of water and nutrients in its environment.
Source: Genetics (wikipedia.org)
Environmental campaigner Liz O'Neill doesn't mince her words about gene drives - the next generation of genetic modification (GM) technology. The way gene drives work sounds like something from a science fiction novel, but they are already being used in laboratory tests.
Scientists say they have completed the first full and seamless catalogue of genetic instructions of humans. Until now, about 8% of the human genome code was missing from the blueprint, experts told the journal Science.
UK scientists have been given the go-ahead by the fertility regulator to genetically modify human embryos. It is the first time a country has considered the DNA-altering technique in embryos and approved it.
People with untreatable cancers have had their immune system redesigned to attack their own tumours. The experimental study involved only 16 patients, but has been called a "leap forward" and a "powerful" demonstration of the potential of such technology.
Researchers in Australia and the US are embarking on a multi-million dollar project to bring the Tasmanian tiger back from extinction. The last known one, officially called a thylacine, died in the 1930s.
Researchers studying human remains from Pompeii have extracted genetic secrets from the bones of a man and a woman who were buried when the Roman city was engulfed in volcanic ash.
UK scientists have undertaken a huge "archaeological dig" of cancer in the UK, analysing the complete genetic make-up - or whole genome sequence - of tumours from about 12,000 patients.
Scientists have compiled the world's oldest family tree from human bones interred at a 5,700-year-old tomb in the Cotswolds, UK. Analysis of DNA from the tomb's occupants revealed the people buried there were from five continuous generations of one extended family.
Scientists say they have made a dramatic step forward in efforts to store information as molecules of DNA. The magnetic hard drives we currently use to store computer data can take up lots of space and also have to be replaced as they age.
We've looked into some of the most widely shared false vaccine claims - everything from alleged plots to put microchips into people to the supposed re-engineering of our genetic code. The fear that a vaccine will somehow change your DNA is one we've seen aired regularly on social media.