An Introduction to Genetic Analysis by Jeffrey H. Miller

By Jeffrey H. Miller

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In the Punnett square in Figure 2-11, for example, we see that the areas of the 16 boxes representing the various gametic fusions are each one-sixteenth of the total area of the grid, simply because the rows and columns were drawn to correspond to the gametic proportions of each. As the Punnett square shows, the F2 contains a variety of genotypes, but there are only four phenotypes and their proportions are in the 9 : 3 : 3 : 1 ratio. So we see that when we work at the biological level of gamete formation, Mendel’s laws explain not only the F2 phenotypes, but also the genotypes underlying them.

Quantification had never been applied to studies on inheritance before Mendel’s work. Indeed, others had obtained remarkably similar results in breeding studies but had failed to count the numbers in each class. In the F2, Mendel counted 705 purple-flowered plants and 224 white-flowered plants. He noted that the ratio of 705 : 224 is almost exactly a 3 : 1 ratio. Mendel repeated the crossing procedures for the six other pairs of pea character differences. He found the same 3 : 1 ratio in the F2 generation for each pair (Table 2-1).

It has become a general scientific convention that if there is a probability of less than 5 percent of observing a deviation from expectations at least this large, the hypothesis will be rejected as false. The hypothesis might still be true, but we have to make a decision somewhere and 5 percent is the conventional decision line. The implication is that although results this far from expectations are anticipated 5 percent of the time even when the hypothesis is true, we will mistakenly reject the hypothesis in only 5 percent of cases and we are willing to take this chance of error.

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An Introduction to Genetic Analysis by Jeffrey H. Miller
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