Poulson, Donald F. Department of Biology, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.
- Evaluation and analysis
- Conditional mutants
- Obtaining test materials
- Occurrence in natural populations
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
A gene which brings about the death of the organism carrying it. Lethal genes constitute the most common class of gene changes (that is, mutations) and are reflections of the fact that the fundamental function of genes is the control of processes essential to the growth and development of organisms. In higher diploid forms lethals are usually recessive and expressed only in homozygotes. Dominant lethals, expressed in heterozygotes, are rapidly eliminated and thus rarely detected. Recessive zygotic lethals are retained with considerable frequency in natural populations of cross-fertilizing organisms, while gametic lethals (those affecting normal functioning of eggs and sperm among animals, or the pollen and ovules of plants) are subject to stringent selection and are accordingly rare.
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