The twentieth century began with the rediscovery of Mendel’s rules of inheritance and ended with the complete sequence of the human genome, one of the most monumental scientific accomplishments of all time. What lies in the future? What will the twenty-first century, the century of genomics, bring? Will geneticists a hundred years from now speak of a complete cure for cancer, heart disease, and mental illness? Will we have a cure for autoimmune diseases such as diabetes and arthritis? Will aging be slowed or even prevented? Will we have a complete understanding of the process of development and a concurrent elimination of birth defects and developmental problems? Will genetics put an end to world hunger? How will we live, and what will be the quality of our lives? The students who now are taking genetics will learn the answers to these questions as time progresses. Some students will contribute to the answers.
The science of genetics includes the rules of inheritance in cells, individuals, and populations and the molecular mechanisms by which genes control the growth, development, and appearance of an organism. No area of biology can truly be appreciated or understood without an understanding of genetics because genes not only control cellular processes, they also determine the course of evolution. Genetic concepts provide the framework for the study of modern biology.
This text provides a balanced treatment of the major areas of genetics in order to prepare the student for upper-level courses and to help share in the excitement of research. Most readers of this text will have taken a general biology course and will have had some background in cell biology and organic chemistry. For an understanding of the concepts in this text, however, the motivated student will need to have completed only an introductory biology course and have had some chemistry and algebra in high school.