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Submitted by Jennifer Woo, Needham H.S., Needham, MA

Key Questions: Has all the genetic material two parents possess been successfully passed on to their children? Is it possible for two parents to produce a child with little or no resemblance to his sisters and brothers?

Goal: To determine whether or not specific genes have been lost from a family.

Preparation: Interview your family members to collect information about the genetic traits listed on the chart below. (Pictures of past generations may be useful in collecting data for specific traits.)


blood type

unattached earlobe



widow’s peak

hitchhiker’s thumb









In Class: Based on your genetic data, develop a hypothesis for the genotypes of your mother and father for each listed trait. Use Punnett squares, test crosses and pedigree charts to create the best possible guess.

In Lab: Now use the GenScope program to confirm your parental genotypes and explore possible combinations that do not exist within your actual families.

1. In the human species file, create a male and female to represent your mother and father.

2. Use the chromosomes tool to alter the genes of your parents in order to match the genotypes hypothesized in class.

3. Open the pedigree window and move your mother and father into the pedigree by selecting and dragging them from the organism window.

4. Using the cross "X" button from the menu bar, "click" on the mother icon, drag the mouse and click on the father icon in order to connect the two parents.

5. Select a specific trait and answer the following questions:

Observe the children in the pedigree, can you confirm that your hypothesized parental genotypes are correct? (Was it possible for the parents in your pedigree to produce children with the genotypes that match your real family?)

  1. Are there phenotypes in your pedigree that do these traits or are these traits lost from your family forever?
  2. Are your real family members carriers for these traits or are these traits lost from your family forever?
  3. What can you conclude about probability and the loss of genetic information?

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