Genetics: Key Concepts

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Gene and Alleles

  • A gene is a unit of heredity that occupies a specific locus on a chromosome.
  • A locus is a specific location on a chromosome where a gene is located.
  • Alleles are different forms of a gene that occupy the same locus on homologous chromosomes.

Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium

  • The Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium is a population genetics model that describes the frequencies of alleles and genotypes in a population that is not evolving.
  • The five conditions for Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium are:
    1. No mutation
    2. No gene flow
    3. No genetic drift
    4. Random mating
    5. No natural selection

Population Genetics

  • Population genetics is the study of the genetic variation within populations.
  • Genetic variation is the presence of different alleles in a population.
  • The gene pool is the total genetic variation within a population.

Genetic Variation

  • Genetic variation can be caused by mutation, gene flow, genetic drift, and non-random mating.
  • Mutation is a change in the DNA sequence.
  • Gene flow is the movement of alleles between populations.
  • Genetic drift is the random change in allele frequencies in a population.
  • Non-random mating is when individuals mate with each other based on their genotype.

Natural Selection

  • Natural selection is the process by which individuals with traits that are better suited to their environment are more likely to survive and reproduce.
  • Natural selection can lead to the evolution of new species.


  • Evolution is the change in the genetic composition of a population over time.
  • Evolution can be caused by natural selection, genetic drift, and mutation.

Other Key Concepts

  • Genotype is the genetic makeup of an individual.
  • Phenotype is the observable characteristics of an individual.
  • Fitness is the ability of an individual to survive and reproduce in its environment.
  • Adaptation is a trait that helps an individual to survive and reproduce in its environment.

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