-By Addison Banning

What is heredity?

Heredity is the passing of traits from parents to their offspring, either by asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction. This process is when an offspring cell or organism acquires or becomes predisposed to the characteristics of its parent cell or organism.


As a subject, it is tied closely to genetics. The study of heritable traits helps scientists discern which are dominant and are likely to be passed on only if both parents possess it. Among the possible heritable traits are given disorders, but study in this area is ongoing, and may yield may surprises

The Scientist Who Discovered Heredity

Heredity and Genetics

As discussed at the beginning of the essay on genetics, the subjects of genetics and heredity are inseparable from each other, but there are so many details that it is extremely difficult to wrap one's mind around the entire concept. It is advisable, then, to break up the overall topic into more digestible bits. One way to do this is to study the biochemical foundations of genetics as a subject in itself, as is done in Genetics, and then to investigate the impact of genetic characteristics on inheritance in a separate context, as we do here.

Also included in the present essay is a brief history of genetic study, which reveals something about the way in which these many highly complex ideas fit together. Many brilliant minds have contributed to the modern understanding of genetics and heredity; unfortunately, within the present context, space permits the opportunity to discuss only a few key figures. The first—a man whose importance in the study of genetics is comparable to that of Charles Darwin (1809-1882) in the realm of evolutionary studies—was the Austrian monk and botanist Gregor Mendel (1822-1884).