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The Inheritance of Variation

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A Common Pattern

Dr. Specht’s experimental design was applied to the dwarf mutant as well and the same pattern of inheritance and genetic hypothesis could be applied. The recessive dwarf trait also appears to be controlled by segregation of a single gene pair in soybean. The results of this experiment are summarized in Fig. 3.

For a scientist, there are few things more satisfying than performing an experiment that provides new knowledge and gives results you can understand. Dr. Specht’s experiments revealed the presence of genes that play a critical role in leaf or plant development in the soybean. We cannot see these genes when we look at the soybean with the naked eye but proposing these genes exist and behave as described explains the inheritance patterns observed in these traits. If the genes are altered (by the EMS) they no longer control normal plant growth as they should. This is a common theme in classical genetics, genes can only be studied if they vary among individuals in a species. The discovery will not end here. Dr. Specht’s research group is currently mapping the gene to a specific position on a chromosome in the soybean. At the end of the research paper Dr. Specht also invites other researchers interested in cloning the disease lesion mutant gene to work with these plants. Researchers know that collectively, more is gained when knowledge is shared.

The sharing of ideas in genetics started over 100 years ago. In fact, the idea of how to organize and interpret the information from this classical genetic experiment in soybean was borrowed from a research paper published in 1865 by Gregor Mendel (see http://www.mendelweb.org/ ). The principle of segregation was a breakthrough idea in biology and Mendel was the first scientist to propose this from his experiments on peas.

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