• Ronald W. Shonkwiler
  • James Herod
Part of the Undergraduate Texts in Mathematics book series (UTM)


In this chapter, we will study the ways that genetic information is passed between generations and how it is expressed. Cells can make exact copies of themselves through asexual reproduction. The genes such cells carry can be turned off and on to vary the cells’ behaviors, but the basic information they contain can be changed only by mutation, a process that is somewhat rare to begin with and usually kills the cell anyway. Genetic material is mixed in sexual reproduction, but the result of such mixing is seldom expressed as a “blend” of the properties’ expressions. Rather, the rules for the combination of genetic information are somewhat complex. Sexual reproduction thus results in offspring that are different from the parents. Much research shows that the ultimate genetic source of this variation is mutation, but the most immediate source is the scrambling of preexisting mutations. The variations produced by sexual reproduction serve as a basis for evolutionary selection, preserving the most desirable properties in a particular environmental context.


Sexual Reproduction Daughter Cell Asexual Reproduction Germinal Cell Homologous Pair 
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References and Suggested Further Reading

  1. [1] Cell Division and Reproduction:
    Cell division and reproduction: W. S. Beck, K. F. Liem, and G. G. Simpson, Life: An Introduction to Biology, 3rd ed., Harper–Collins, New York, 1991.Google Scholar
  2. [2] Genetics:
    Genetics: D. T. Suzuki, A. J. F. Griffiths, J. H. Miller, and R. C. Lewontin, An Introduction to Genetic Analysis, W. H. Freeman, 3rd ed., New York, 1986.Google Scholar
  3. [3] Sexual Selection in Humans:
    Sexual selection in humans: D. M. Buss, The strategies of human mating, Amer. Sci., 82 (1994), 238249.Google Scholar
  4. [4] Mathematical Genetics:
    Mathematical genetics: J. F. Crow and M. Kimura, An Introduction to Population Genetics Theory, Harper and Row, New York, 1970.MATHGoogle Scholar
  5. [5] Mathematical Genetics:
    Mathematical genetics: J. B. S. Haldane, A mathematical theory of natural and artificial selection V: Selection and mutation, Cambridge Philos. Soc. Proc., 23-VII (1927), 838844.MATHCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag New York 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of MathematicsGeorgia Institute of TechnologyAtlantaUSA

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