Genetics Jargon - a Mini Dictionary

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GENETICS JARGON
Alleles (allelomorphs)
Alternative forms of a particular gene. There can be several alleles of a particular gene in the population, but only 2 alleles can be inherited by a single individual. For simplicity much literature aimed at the general reader uses "gene" where it means "allele". Allelic Series

A series of alleles that are all mutant forms of the same gene and are at the same locus (same position on the chromsome). Alternate Heredity
Mendelian inheritance involving the genetic assortment of genes (so that either one gene or the other is expressed) as opposed to "blending heredity" where the ancestral traits blend to form intermediates in the offspring or "mosaic heredity". Artificial Insemination

Use of stored sperm from an unneutered male to impregnate a female. Used when the two partners are geographically separate. Sperm from a male can be stored for use many years later. Not (currently) used in cat breeding, but often used in other livestock. Artificial Selection

Selection for specific traits by breeders choosing which cats to mate together to perpetuate the trait(s). Artificial selection often selects for traits that would be eradicated in nature. Assortive mating

Like-to-like mating i.e. mating together individuals that have similar characteristics. Atavism
(Found in older literature) the appearance of an ancestral form in kittens; throwback to an ancestral type. Autosome, Autosomal
An autosome is a chromosome other than X or Y. Autosomal traits are non-sex linked traits. Back-cross
When an offspring is mated back to its own parent, usually to preserve recessive traits. Bigenic
A trait that is determined by genes (alleles) at two different loci (locations on chromosomes) as opposed to monogenic (determined by the alleles of a single gene). Biological Age, Cellular Age
For normally conceived animals, the biological age is the same as the chronological age. For clones, it is the chronological age of the clone plus the chronological age of the donor when the cell was extracted . If the donor animal was 5 years old when the cell was taken, then the clone's biological age will be its chronological age PLUS 5 years. Blending Heredity

Theory that offspring have a blend of ancestral traits, forming intermediate forms. Opposite of Mendelian heredity where either one trait or the other is expressed. Bloodline
A strain of cats descended from a notable ancestor. A human equivalent would be royal bloodlines e.g. the Tudor bloodline. Bottleneck
A point where a population has decreased to only a few individuals and then expands again from those few individuals. Genetic diversity is lost. A bottleneck can occur for any reason e.g. disease wiping out all but a few cats of a particular breed. Breed

A distinct strain of individuals that interbreed to produce uniform traits. The standard (list of traits) is generally set down in a breed standard registered with a breed club or official multi-breed registry. Cats that most closely match the standard are "exhibition quality". Small variations within the breed means that cats with minor imperfections, but otherwise close to the standard, are "breeder quality" while those with further from the standard are "pet quality". Carrier

A cat that is heterozygous for a particular recessive trait. The trait is masked by the dominant gene, but may be passed to the next generation if the it is mated to another carrier or to one that is homozygous for the recessive trait. The term is most often used when breeding for colour or when the "carried" trait could be harmful (in which case known carriers should not be bred from). Character

Another term for "trait" meaning a heritable feature produced by one or more genes. Chimera
A single individual that is formed when 2 fertilised eggs fuse together. It is one of the mechanisms by which tortie males occur. The eggs may be both the same gender or may be one male and one female. Chimeras range from undetectable, to...
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