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Introduction to Heredity

Every living organism possesses a set of characters by which it can be identified as a member of a particular species. What makes a species possess certain set of characters and how are they maintained generation after generation form the subject matter of genetics. Genetics is the study of heredity. Modern genetics is concerned with the study of genes. Genes are the units of heredity that control the characteristics of organisms. When the hereditary variations caused by mutations are passed on to the successive generations, it results in the formation of new species. This is the basis of evolution.


The term ‘heredity’ may be defined as transmission of genetically based characteristics from parents to offsprings.

‘Like begets like’ means that young ones look like their parents. All organisms, whether animals, plants or microorganisms, produce their own kind through reproduction. But the offsprings are never identical to their parents; some difference, however small it may be, is found in them. These differences that exist between individuals belonging to the same species are known as variations.

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