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The Inheritance of Variation

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Introduction - The Inheritance of Variation

The Ford Bronco came to a stop and generated a cloud of fine dust that blew 100 yards or so with the southern breeze into the traffic on Huntington Avenue. Regular travelers of that street taking a quick glance through the dust would see a routine play out that was familiar to them. Dr. Jim Specht, a geneticist at the University of Nebraska, would pile out of his Bronco with a notebook and head deliberately into a soybean field. Hours later spectators would see Dr. Specht in the same field. Perhaps he would be bending down for a closer look at a plant or pausing to write something in his notebook. “That guy spends hours out there, what’s he looking for?” they would wonder.

A soybean plot.

Genetic variation was what Dr. Specht’s keen eyes were diligently searching for. The field contained thousands of soybean plants that were the subjects of a carefully planned and implemented experiment designed to reveal some understanding about the control of traits in soybean. The experimental design was a classical approach used by many scientists interested in understanding how variation in traits is controlled and inherited.


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