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Genetics

century inheritance growth characteristics

Genetics, study of the inheritance of biological characteristics from parent to offspring. The smallest unit of inheritance is the gene, which is contained within the gametes, or germ cells, that unite at fertilization. Genetics as a science arose at the end of the 19th century when Gregor Mendel's theories of certain basic laws determining some inherited characteristics were rediscovered. It has developed rapidly in the 20th century, spurred on by the growth of physics, chemistry, statistics, and biochemistry. The greatest advance was the discovery (1953) of the chemical nature of the genetic material, deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which carries the information necessary for the growth and development of the new individual.

See also: Gene; Heredity.

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