Genetic Vocabulary


Genetic Vocabulary

Cells – We are each comprised of these tiny units – roughly 75 trillion in all. Together they unite to create the organs and tissue forming the human body.

Genes – These are the structure for protein production controlling what each cell’s function will be. We each have approximately 35,000 genes.

Genome – The name for the total of a person’s genes. Interestingly, it is only a very, very small percentage of these genes that differentiate a human body from all other animals.

Membrane – The casing around a cell.

Cytoplasm – The liquid inside the membrane.

Organelles – The ingredients of the cytoplasm. – literally meaning “tiny organs”

Nucleus – The organelle which controls the others and which stores all the genetic material

Chromosomes – The structure within the nucleus in which the genetic material is stored. Humans each have 22 numbered pairs of chromosomes plus a single pair of gender chromosomes: XX in females and XY in males. In every chromosomal pair, there is one inherited from the father and the other from the mother.

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) – Molecules in the form of long strings of chromosomes These are the genetic blueprint for creating organisms. They take the form of a double helix (basically a spiral staircase). Each step contains DNA bases A,C,T, and G. Portions of some of these bases contain long sequences with combinations of these letters which together constitute individual genes. Each gene sets forth what proteins the cells will each produce and their functions.

Mitochondria – Another kind of organelle which possesses its own genome and does not recombine during reproduction