BISC 219/2009:Glossary

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Wellesley College BISC 219 Genetics

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This glossary is a work in progress. Please feel free to add terms here you would like defined or you think other students would find useful.

Cloning:has several different meanings. You can clone and organism - make an identical copy. You can clone a gene
Gene expression: the conversion of the information coded in DNA into the structures in a cell. Either the transcription of a gene into RNA and then RNA translated into protein OR the transcription of a gene into RNA but not further processed.
Marker: a gene or other sequence of DNA with a known location on a chromosome that can be monitored during crosses
Outcross: a way to introduce genetic variation into a line. Often used after a mutant has been isolated to be sure that there is only one mutation causing a specific phenotype. Crossing your mutant organism to wild type.
Plasmid: a small circular piece of DNA propagated in bacteria that can be "easily" modified to carry specific genes of interest.
Reporter: a protein with specific distinguishing properties (usually visual) added to protein being studied in order to follow the protein of interest in a cell. Common reporter proteins are GFP, green fluorescent protein, and β-galactosidase, encoded by the lacZ gene.
Scoring: to examine and count individuals - to determine phenotype.
Seeded: to add bacteria to a plate as worm food
Somatic: all cells except eggs and sperm
Strain vs Species: A strain is a set of individuals of a particular genotype within a species with the capacity to produce more individuals of the same genotype.
Testcross: crossing an individual expressing a dominant trait to an individual expressing the homozygous recessive trait to determine if the former individual is homozygous or heterozygous dominant.
Totipotent: a cell in the undifferentiated state that has the ability to become any cell type. Cells early in embryonic development are totipotent.

Vector: a sequence of DNA (often a plasmid) that can enter a living cell and signal its presence by conferring a specific property on the host cell (often antibiotic resistance or a visible trait like GFP fluorescence). A vector has a means of replicating itself in the host cell.