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Heredity, process by which characteristics are passed on to offspring. Inherited characteristics are passed on in units called genes. Genes are normally located on the chromosomes in the nuclei of cells. Each chromosome carries many genes that may be transmitted together and are said to be “in coupling.” The genetic composition, or genome, of an individual is established at conception; thereafter, a complex interaction of genes and environment (both internal and external) shapes his or her development.

See also: Genetics.

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21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia21st Century Webster's Family Encyclopedia - Healy, James Augustine to Hobart, Garret Augustus