Biology » Modern Understandings of Inheritance » Chromosomal Theory and Genetic Linkage

Summarizing Chromosomal Theory and Genetic Linkage


The Chromosomal Theory of inheritance, proposed by Sutton and Boveri, states that chromosomes are the vehicles of genetic heredity. Neither Mendelian genetics nor gene linkage is perfectly accurate; instead, chromosome behavior involves segregation, independent assortment, and occasionally, linkage. Sturtevant devised a method to assess recombination frequency and infer the relative positions and distances of linked genes on a chromosome on the basis of the average number of crossovers in the intervening region between the genes.

Sturtevant correctly presumed that genes are arranged in serial order on chromosomes and that recombination between homologs can occur anywhere on a chromosome with equal likelihood. Whereas linkage causes alleles on the same chromosome to be inherited together, homologous recombination biases alleles toward an inheritance pattern of independent assortment.


centimorgan (cM)

(also, map unit) relative distance that corresponds to a recombination frequency of 0.01

Chromosomal Theory of Inheritance

theory proposing that chromosomes are the vehicles of genes and that their behavior during meiosis is the physical basis of the inheritance patterns that Mendel observed

homologous recombination

process by which homologous chromosomes undergo reciprocal physical exchanges at their arms, also known as crossing over

nonparental (recombinant) type

progeny resulting from homologous recombination that exhibits a different allele combination compared with its parents

parental types

progeny that exhibits the same allelic combination as its parents

recombination frequency

average number of crossovers between two alleles; observed as the number of nonparental types in a population of progeny

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