Genetic Linkage

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Genetic Linkage


the joint transfer of two or more genes from parents to offspring. Genetic linkage occurs because such genes reside on the same chromosome, that is, they belong to the same linkage group and therefore cannot be accidentally recom-bined in meiosis, which occurs in the inheritance of genes residing on different chromosomes.

Genetic linkage was discovered in 1906 by the English geneticists W. Bateson and R. Punnett, who discovered in experiments on the crossing of plants the tendency of some genes to transfer together, thus violating the law of the independent combination of traits. This tendency was correctly explained by T. H. Morgan and his associates, who discovered a similar phenomenon in their study of inherited traits in the fruit fly (Drosophila).

Genetic linkage is measured by the frequency at which crossover gametes or spores are formed by a heterozygote on jointly transferring genes. In these gametes or spores, the genes occur in new combinations rather than in the original combinations, owing to the crossing-over of those parts of the homologous chromosomes bearing the genes. In some bacteria, another measure of genetic linkage is the frequency of joint transmission by inheritance of various genes in conjugation, genetic transformation, and transduction. The extent of genetic linkage may vary among the sexes: it is generally greater in the heterogametic sex. Genetic linkage may even be complete, without crossing-over, in one of the sexes, for example, in male Drosophila or in female Asiatic silkworms (Bombyx morí). The extent of genetic linkage may also vary with the age of the parents and with temperature. In addition, it may vary in the presence of chromosomal rearrangement or of mutant genes that influence the extent of genetic linkage.


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