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Horizons of Influence

As a current undergraduate student majoring in biochemistry, I have a passion for examining the essential processes necessary for life. Intrigued by the natural world, my interests for how organisms and things function manifested into a immersing myself in various biological themes.

One topic in particular, whether genetic information encodes for phenotypic traits, has been the center of biological debate. I first learned about this issue in my PHIL 321 (Philosophy of Science) course after reading articles by Godfrey-Smith and Sarkar.  I experienced a moment of realization when I became informed of the debate and decided it made more sense to think genes encode for phenotypic traits.

The knowledge gained from past experience and previous instructors shaped my opinions to presume genes encode information for phenotypic traits. For instance, my AP Biology course presented a basic understanding of the relationship between genotype and phenotype:

  • Genes are inheritable units that may influence a trait.
  • A visible trait is the final product of many molecular and biochemical processes.
  • Proteins go through complex processes to yield the expression of genes in an observable way.
  • Portions of chromosomes have genes with very long and compacted string of DNA and proteins.
  • Genetic make-up of the organism and environmental pressures on the organism subject to change control phenotype.
  • The genotype is comprised of the underlying genes that control phenotypic traits, while the actual phenotypic trait we observe is noted as the phenotype.

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This image represents genotype (B and b)  and phenotype (purple and white color) relationship. 

Furthermore, my BIO 208 course (Intro to Molecular Genetics) emphasized the significance of the central dogma discovered by Francis Crick.

256px-Central_Dogma_of_Molecular_Biochemistry_with_Enzymes

DNA —–>RNA——>Proteins (ultimately affecting organism structure and function)

The professor for this course, Dr. RG, stressed the notion of “one gene, one enzyme.” This concept constructed my beliefs that one gene is responsible for producing one enzyme that ultimately controls a trait. Until presented with a counter argument in my PHIL 321 class, I assumed the language and thought processes were concise in biology. I’m interested in defining the relationship between genes and phenotypic traits to a greater degree that provides a comprehensive understanding on this biological topic.

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