Genetics: From Genes to Genomes 6th Edition
A Note from the Authors
The science of genetics is less than 150 years old, but its accomplishments within that short time have been astonishing. Gregor Mendel first described genes as abstract units of inheritance in 1865; his work was ignored and then rediscovered in 1900. Thomas Hunt Morgan and his students provided experimental verification of the idea that genes reside within chromosomes during the years 1910–1920. By 1944, Oswald Avery and his coworkers had established that genes are made of DNA. James Watson and Francis Crick published their pathbreaking structure of DNA in 1953. Remarkably, less than 50 years later (in 2001), an international consortium of investigators deciphered the sequence of the 3 billion nucleotides in the human genome. Twentieth century genetics made it possible to identify individual genes and to understand a great deal about their functions.
Today, scientists are able to access the enormous amounts of genetic data generated by the sequencing of many organisms’ genomes. Analysis of these data will result in a deeper understanding of the complex molecular interactions within and among vast networks of genes, proteins, and other molecules that help bring organisms to life. Finding new methods and tools for analyzing these data will be a significant part of genetics in the twenty-first century. Our sixth edition of Genetics: From Genes to Genomes emphasizes both the core concepts of genetics and the cutting-edge discoveries, modern tools, and analytic methods that will keep the science of genetics moving forward.
The authors of the sixth edition have worked together in revising every chapter in an effort not only to provide the most up-to-date information, but also to provide continuity and the clearest possible explanations of difficult concepts in one voice.
Our Focus—An Integrated Approach
Genetics: From Genes to Genomes represents a new approach to an undergraduate course in genetics. It reflects the way we, the authors, currently view the molecular basis of life.
∙ Formal genetics: the rules by which genes are transmitted.
∙ Molecular genetics: the structure of DNA and how it directs the structure of proteins.
∙ Digital analysis and genomics: recent technologies that allow a comprehensive analysis of the entire gene set and its expression in an organism.
Human genetics: how genes contribute to health and diseases, including cancer.
∙ The unity of life-forms: the synthesis of information from many different organisms into coherent models.
∙ Molecular evolution: the molecular mechanisms by which biological systems, whole organisms, and populations have evolved and diverged.
The strength of this integrated approach is that students who complete the book will have a strong command of genetics as it is practiced today by both academic and corporate researchers. These scientists are rapidly changing our understanding of living organisms, including ourselves. Ultimately, this vital research may create the ability to replace or correct detrimental genes—those “inborn errors of metabolism,” as researcher Archibald Garrod called them in 1923, as well as the later genetic alterations that lead to the many forms of cancer.
The Genetic Way of Thinking
Modern genetics is a molecular-level science, but an understanding of its origins and the discovery of its principles isa necessary context. To encourage a genetic way of thinking, we begin the book by reviewing Mendel’s principles and the chromosomal basis of inheritance. From the outset, however, we aim to integrate organism-level genetics with fundamental molecular mechanisms. Chapter 1 presents the foundation of this integration by summarizing the main biological themes we explore.
In Chapter 2, we tie Mendel’s studies of pea trait inheritance to the actions of enzymes that determine whether a pea is round or wrinkled, yellow or green, etc. In the same chapter, we point to the relatedness of the patterns of heredity in all organisms.
Chapters 3–5 cover extensions to Mendel, the chromosome theory of inheritance, and the fundamentals of gene linkage and mapping. Starting in Chapter 6, we focus on the physical characteristics of DNA, on mutations, and on how DNA encodes, copies, and transmits biological information.
Beginning in Chapter 9, we move into the digital revolution in DNA analysis with a look at modern genetics techniques, including gene cloning, PCR, microarrays, and high-throughput genome sequencing. We explore how bioinformatics, an emergent analytical tool, can aid in discovery of genome features. This section concludes in Chapter 11 with case studies leading to the discovery of human disease genes.
The understanding of molecular and computer-based techniques carries into our discussion of chromosome specifics in Chapters 12–15, and also informs our analysis of gene regulation in Chapters 16 and 17. Chapter 18 describes the most recent technology that scientists can use to manipulate genomes at will – for research and practical purposes including gene therapy. Chapter 19 describes the use of genetic tools at the molecular level to uncover the complex interactions of eukaryotic development. In Chapter 20, we explain how our understanding of genetics and the development of molecular genetic technologies is enabling us to comprehend cancer and in some cases to cure it. Chapters 21 and 22 cover population genetics, with a view of how molecular tools have provided information on species relatedness and on genome changes at the molecular level over time. In addition, we explain how bioinformatics can be combined with population genetics to understand inheritance of complex traits and to trace human ancestry.
Throughout our book, we present the scientific reasoning of some of the ingenious researchers of the field—from Mendel, to Watson and Crick, to the collaborators on the Human Genome Project. We hope student readers will see that genetics is not simply a set of data and facts, but also a human endeavor that relies on contributions from exceptional individuals.
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