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Heredity/Inheritance Patterns

Heredity/Inheritance Patterns

The genetic transmission of traits

Heredity refers to the genetic transmission of traits from parents to offspring. Heredity helps explain why children tend to resemble their parents, as well as how a genetic disease runs in a family. Some genetic conditions are caused by mutations in a single gene. These conditions are usually inherited in one of several straightforward patterns, including autosomal dominant, autosomal recessive, X-linked dominant, X-linked recessive, codominant, and mitochondrial inheritance patterns. Complex disorders and multifactorial disorders are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. These disorders may cluster in families, but do not have a clear-cut pattern of inheritance.

Materials for Heredity/Inheritance Patterns


Each Organism's Traits are Inherited from a Parent through Transmission of DNA

Description: The history of the discovery of chromosomes, DNA, genes, and inheritance

Gene Inheritance and Transmission

Description: Articles on heredity, the transmission of genetic traits, and the studies which led to our knowledge of these topics

What are the different ways in which a genetic condition can be inherited?

Description: An overview of ways in which a single gene disorder can be inherited

What is Inheritance?

Description: Inheritance is the process by which genetic information is passed on from parent to child. This is why members of the same family tend to have similar characteristics.


Dog Breeding

Description: Practice breeding dogs to get a puppy with certain single and multigenic traits


Description: Game-like software that teaches concepts of heredity, meiosis and the pathway from DNA to trait

Michael's Inside Scoop!

Description: A short activity that explores basic concepts of heredity

Modern Genetics

Description: Students breed dragons to learn concepts of modern genetics

Interactive Tutorials

Children Resemble Their Parents

Description: Information, videos, interactive tutorials, and animations on genetic traits

Heredity - Genetics

Description: Video and practice problems teaching core concepts of genetics, including DNA replication, transcription, translation, and genetic inheritance

Life Science

Description: Videos and practice problems teaching core concepts of life science, including the structure and function of cells, cellular reproduction, heredity, evolution and biodiversity

Teacher Resources

Basic Probability and Chi-Squared Tests (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: An expert authored advanced in-class exercise teaching critical skills for classic genetic analysis, including probability, making predictions, and assessment.

Can you taste PTC? (PDF 1,989.26 KB, Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: In this lesson, students use a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP) kit to determine their genotype for the TAS2R38 gene. While waiting for their results, students also test their PTC tasting ability (phenotype). The class then analyzes both phenotype and genotype data to determine which allele is the taster allele and which allele is the non-taster allele.

DNA from the Beginning

Description: An animated primer of 75 experiments that made modern genetics

Exploring Twin Studies (PDF 1,037.91 KB, Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: This lesson challenges students to list complex traits, and includes a reading on genetic and environmental influences in type II diabetes. Students are challenged to design a study to determine the relative contribution of environment and genetics for a given trait/condition. Finally, students are introduced to the most common design used for this purpose, the twin study.

Gene U - Genetics and Inheritance

Description: Lesson guides, videos, slides, and other teaching resources on genes and inheritance. Teacher guide includes lesson plans using domestic dogs as a model to teach core genetic concepts.

Genomics and Inheritance (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: This University of North Carolina teaching module teaches students about the human genome and what makes us each unique, how traits are inherited, and how Genome Wide Association Studies (GWAS) are helping to identify genes responsible for complex human diseases. Hands on activities include the Genetic Wheel (which shows how inherited traits make each of us incredibly unique) and a GWAS activity where students get to identify a genetic marker contributing to a human disease.

Harry Potter's World

Description: Activities for teaching basic genetic concepts as well as characteristics of complex traits

Sex Determination (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: This lesson explores sex determination in mammals. Students first share their conceptions about the genetics of sex determination, then using normal and abnormal human karyotypes, students hone in on their hypothesis. The case of XY females is used to explain the presence of the SRY gene on the Y chromosome, which must produce active protein in order for a male to develop. The lesson ends by exploring other sex-determination systems in animals and their similarities and differences.

Who Gets Sick? (Lesson Plans/Lesson Activities)

Description: Students learn that disease is influenced by genetic factors. They also learn about how the likelihood of inheriting gene mutations for a particular disease is linked to the branches of the human family tree from which one descends.


Introduction to Inherited Traits

Description: What determines the physical and biological characteristics of an individual organism, and how are these traits passed from one generation to the next? In this presentation, Dr. McNeel describes the basics of genetic inheritance.

Molecular Basis of Heredity: Part 1. Nucleic Acids

Description: Discover the fundamentals of DNA, RNA, nucleic acids and their roles within cells, with Raye Lynn Alford, PhD.

Molecular Basis of Heredity: Part 2. Genomes

Description: Raye Lynn Alford, PhD, explains the structures and functions of genomes, and discusses how chromosomal changes lead to certain genetic disorders.

Molecular Basis of Heredity: Part 3. Genetic Variation

Description: Join Raye Lynn Alford, PhD, as she explains the molecular basis of genetic variation, including mechanisms and types of DNA sequence variations, and patterns of inheritance of genetic disorders.