Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Genes and Dominance
Name: Patricia P.
Status: Other
Age: 40s
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: May 2003


Question:
Will a gene that expresses complete dominance always show in offspring? I can not find any information using the search engine that really deals with complete dominance and feel like recessive traits can always show up? What is the difference between dominance and complete dominance?



Replies:
The term dominance means that with the typically two different forms of a gene, one will be expressed and the other form will not. The simplest example is when a plant or animal produces a pigment it is a certain color and when it does not produce the pigment it is white. These would be deferent forms of the gene...or alleles. Many times, the protein the gene codes for is more or less effective in its enzymatic activity and not an all or none deal where one form works and the other does not. In reality, the genes and their expressions are far more complex. Genes that are dominant will sometimes not be expressed...called nonpenetrant. For example, in "dominant hearing loss, under some circumstances the dominant gene will be fully expressed and in other cases it will be nonpenetrant (not expressed). Moreover most phenotypes (physical appearances) are also polygenic...more than one gene involved. BY FAR most diseases are polygenic. I suspect that in most cases where phenotypes seem unpredictable there are more genes involved than presently recognized. Eye color is a well known example. To say that eye color is based on a single dominant and recessive gene is outright wrong. Otherwise how would all the colors of blue, green, hazel brown, dark brown and nearly black occur...more genes are involved.

Peter Faletra


A dominant trait is one where if the gene is present, its effect is seen. That is the simple answer. Remember that genes code for proteins and proteins have many functions. They can be hormones, enzymes, structural components etc. The way the gene is expressed depends on what the protein does. Complete dominance is when even in a heterozygote enough protein is produced to give the full phenotype. So the recessive is "hidden". In some cases however, because a heterozygote only gives half the protein, it is only partially expressed. For example, in some snapdragons, homozygous red gives red flowers. But a heterozygote has pink flowers because one allele is not enough to get red. There is also something called penetrance and is usually a percentage. This is the percent of people who even though they inherit a dominant form of the gene, actually express the phenotype. Sometimes, people who have the gene, do not seem to show it. This is called incomplete penetrance.

vanhoeck



Click here to return to the Molecular Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory