Science Objects are two hour on-line interactive inquiry-based content modules that help teachers better understand the science content they teach. This Science Object is the third of three Science Objects in the Heredity and Variation SciPack. It explores the role of mutations in genetic variation.
The random combination of genes during sexual reproduction is not the only source of variation in organisms. Although some genes may be passed for many thousands of generations with no consequential changes in its function, occasionally a mutation occurs in which a gene may be altered. Gene mutations can occur spontaneously through random errors in copying, or induced by chemicals or radiation that affect the DNA’s chemical bonds. Only if a mutated gene is in a gamete is it possible for copies of it to be passed down to offspring, becoming part of all their cells, altering the nature of some proteins produced by the DNA. The function of a mutated gene may not be altered or it may have its function in protein synthesis altered, which subsequently affects the physical traits expressed in the organism. Mutations provide additional sources of variation that can be helpful, harmful or of no impact on the survival an individual.
- Compare and contrast genetic mutations with genetic variations resulting from the process of meiosis.
- Identify and describe the general processes involved in the creation of genetic mutations.
- Describe possible consequences of genetic mutations.
- Describe conditions necessary for genetic mutations to be inherited by an organism’s offspring.