Genetics and Evolution

What is meant by Mendelian inheritance?

Mendelian inheritance refers to genetic traits carried through heredity; the process was studied and described by Austrian monk Gregor Mendel. Mendel was the first to deduce correctly the basic principles of heredity. Mendelian traits are also called single gene or monogenic traits, because they are controlled by the action of a single gene or gene pair. More than 4,300 human disorders are known or suspected to be inherited as Mendelian traits, encompassing autosomal dominant (e.g., neurofibromatosis), autosomal recessive (e.g., cystic fibrosis), and sex-linked dominant and recessive conditions (e.g., color-blindness and hemophilia).

Overall, incidence of Mendelian disorders in the human population is about one percent. Many non-anomalous characteristics that make up human variation are also inherited in Mendelian fashion.


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