DNA Glossary

Most commonly used terms and definitions regarding DNA science and Book of Mormon people.

Genetic Science Learning Center - a great online tutorial about basic DNA science

Allele - One of the different forms of a particular gene which occur at the same position on homologous chromosomes.
Amino acid - Organic molecule which serve as the building blocks of proteins.
Autosome - Any chromosome other than the sex chromosomes.
Base - Molecular units, also known as nucleotides, found in DNA; Adenine (A), Cytosine (C), Guanine (G), Thymine (T).
Biallelic marker - DNA markers which occur in only two forms in a population
Bottleneck effect - Change in the gene pool of a surviving population after a dramatic reduction in the size of a parent population.
Cell - Fundamental unit of living things; All organisms are made of cells.
Chromosome - A threadlike structure found in the cell nucleus, which contains a linear, end to end, arrangement of genes.
Clade - A group of individuals, features or DNA sequences that are clearly related to each other.
Codon - A section of DNA, three nucleotides in length, that codes for a particular amino acid.
Crossing over - Reciprocal exchange of genetic material between homologous chromosomes.
Diploid - Containing two sets of chromosomes, one set inherited from each parent.
DNA - (Deoxyribonucleic acid) A double chain of linked bases which are the fundamental units of genes.
DNA lineage - A pedigree of related DNA containing molecules (e.g. mitochondrial or Y-chromosome DNAs).
DNA marker - Unique DNA sequences used to characterise or keep track of a gene, chromosome or DNA lineage
DNA sequence - The ordered arrangement of the bases within DNA
Eukaryote - An organism having cells containing a nucleus eg. fungi, plants and animals.
Fingerprint (DNA) Characteristic pattern of DNA fragments obtained from an analysis of an individuals DNA.
Founder effect - Change in the gene pool of a colonizing population because it is founded by a limited number of individuals from a parent population.
Founding lineage (DNA) - A DNA lineage present in the original founders of a population.
Gene - The fundamental unit of heredity; A segment of DNA containing coded information for protein synthesis.
Gene pool - The total collection of genes in a population.
Genealogy - An account of the descent of a person or family through an ancestral line.
Genetic code - The set of correspondences between DNA base triplets (codons) in DNA and amino acids in protein.
Genetic distance - A measure of the relatedness between populations based on gene frequencies.
Genetic drift
- Changes in the gene pool of a small population due to chance.
Genome - The entire complement of genetic material of an organism, contained in its set of chromosomes.
Haplogroup - Group of related haploid lineages (haplotypes) eg. mitochondrial or Y-chromosome DNA lineages.
Haploid - Containing only one set of chromosomes.
Haplotype - A haploid DNA lineage with a characteristic sequence.
Homologous chromosomes - Chromosome pairs containing genes for the same traits at identical positions. One homologous chromosome is inherited from the father and the other from the mother.
Human Pedigree - One's line of ancestors; an ancestral line; ancestry; lineage, descent. Lineage - See DNA lineage.
Marker - See DNA marker.
Maternal inheritance - Inherited solely from the mother eg. mitochondria.
messenger RNA - See mRNA.
Mitochondria - Organelles in eukaryotic cells involved in energy metabolism.
Mitochondrial DNA - DNA contained within mitochondria.
Molecular Genetics - The study of the molecular processes underlying gene structure and function.
mRNA (messenger RNA) - (messenger ribonucleic acid) A single stranded molecule similar to DNA that facilitates the flow of information in DNA to synthesis of proteins.
MtDNA - See Mitochondrial DNA
Mutation - Process that introduces changes into the order of bases in DNA sequence.
Nucleotide - See Base
Nucleus - The chromosome-containing organelle in eukaryotic cells.
Organelle - Body with specialized function, found in eukaryotic cells.
Paternal inheritance - Inherited solely from the father eg. Y-chromosomes.
Pedigree - A family tree drawn to show patterns of relatedness between characters or individuals.
Polymorphism (DNA) - DNA sequence changes detected between two different DNA sequences.
Polypeptide - A polymer (chain) of many amino acids linked together.
Prokaryote - An organism having cells lacking a nucleus eg. bacteria.
Protein - Organic polymer constructed from chains of amino acids
Ribosome - A cell organelle involved in protein synthesis.
Sex chromosome - A chromosome that plays a role in sex determination; A chromosome whose presence or absence is correlated with the sex of the bearer.
Transcription - The transfer of information from a DNA molecule into a messenger RNA molecule.
Translation - The transfer of information from a messenger RNA molecule into a polypeptide, involving a change of language from nucleic acids (RNA) to amino aicds.
Triplet - The three base pairs that comprise a codon.
X-chromosome - Chromosome responsible for determining female sexual traits of an individual.
Y-chromosome - Chromosome responsible for determining male sexual traits of an individual.
Zygote - The diploid cell formed by the fusion of an egg and a sperm.
National Human Genome Research Institute - a complete multi-media glossary and tutorial.
Back to DNA - Book of Mormon