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  • alleles- Alternative of a gene for a particular characteristic.
  • amino acids- The building blocks of protein.
  • autosomes- Chromosomes other than the X and Y. Chromosomes which are not involved in determining the sex of an individual.
  • bases of nucleic acids- Organic bases found universally in DNA and RNA.
  • base pair- A pair of hydrogen-bonded nitrogenous bases that join the component strands of the DNA double helix. Adenine pairs with thymine, guanine pairs with cytosine.
  • biology- The science that deals with the study of life.
  • cell- The basic structural unit that makes up all living organisms.
  • cell membrane- The outer boundary of a cell also known as the plasma membrane.
  • chromatin- Areas or structures within a nucleus of a cell composed of DNA and proteins.
  • chromosome- Histone protein and DNA structure found inside the nucleus of a cell that contain the cell's genetic information.
  • cytoplasm- The more fluid portion of protoplasm that surrounds the nucleus.
  • deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA)- A polymer of nucleotides that serves as genetic information. When combined with histone protein and tightly coiled, it is known as a chromosome.
  • diploid- A cell that has two sets of chromosomes; one set from the father and one from the mother.
  • double helix- The Watson-Crick model of DNA structure.
  • gamete- A sex cell; a sperm or egg which contains half the genetic information of the parent.
  • gene- A unit of inheritance that, in the classic sense, occupies a specific site (locus) within the chromosome.
  • genetics- The science of heredity. The study of genes, how genes produce characteristics and how the characteristics are inherited.
  • genome- The total genetic makeup of an individual or organism. A set of all the genes of an organism.
  • haploid- A single set of chromosomes. Sperm and egg contain a haploid set of chromosomes.
  • heredity- The familial phenomenon where biological traits are passed from parent to offspring.
  • Human Genome Project- A 15-year, 3 billion dollar project conducted under the auspices of the National Institutes of Health to map and sequence all the DNA of a human prototype.
  • Human Genome Diversity Project- A project designed to study human diversity and will involve a worldwide collection of genetic material from select indigenous people.
  • karyotype- The chromosomal complement of a cell, individual or species often shown as a picture of chromosomes arranged in order from largest to smallest.
  • locus- The spot or position on a chromosome where an allele is located.
  • nucleus- The membrane-bounded structure found in a cell which contains the genetic material.
  • nuclear membrane- The structure surrounding the nucleus that separates the nucleoplasm from the cytoplasm.
  • nucleoplasm- The liquid matrix of the nucleus.
  • protein- Macromolecules made up of amino acids.
  • protoplasm- The living portion of a cell as opposed to the non-living cell wall.
  • X chromosome- A sex chromosome. Two X chromosomes comprise a female.
  • Y chromosome- A sex chromosome. An X and a Y chromosome comprise a male.
  • zygote- The cell or entity resulting from the union of sperm and egg.

(From Concepts in Biology, Enger, E. D., et al., 1988 and A Dictionary of Genetics, King, R. C., and Stanfield, W. D., 1997.)

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