Distinguish between mutations, mutants and mutagens - KCSE Biology Essays

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  1. Distinguish between mutations, mutants and mutagens

    Mutations are sudden, spontaneous and permanent changes; in an individual’s genetic material; Mutants are individuals who develop and exhibit unusual characteristics that were not previously present in the population; due to mutations; while mutagens are factors in the environment; that cause mutations to occur;

  2. Give two causes of mutations

    Irradiations such as gamma rays and ultra violet rays; chemical substances such as mustard gas and other heavy metals (mercury, lead, asbestos); sudden extreme (high or low) temperatures;

  3. Describe the causes and effects of chromosomal mutations

    ; refers to the absence of a portion of a chromosome; it results from breakage and falling off of a portion of a chromosome; leading to loss of a group of genes that may have a disastrous effect on the development of an organism;
    Inversion; refers to reversal of normal sequence of genes in portion of a chromosome; occurs when a middle portion of a chromosome breaks, turns or rotates (inverts) through 180o and joins up again; this does not change the genetic constitution of the organism; but may bring into close proximity genes whose combined effects to an organism produce a beneficial effect to an organism; or cause disadvantages to the organism;
    Translocation; attachment of a portion of a chromosome to a non-homologous chromosome; occurs when a chromosome breaks and the portion joins another non-homologous chromosome; this may lead to serious consequences, even death depending on what genes are missing;
    Duplication; situation where a set of genes is represented twice in a chromosome; a part of a chromatid formed during cell division may replicate further to form an extra piece; which may attach onto the same or another chromatid; resulting to traits controlled by some genes being excessively expressed;
    Non-disjunction; this is failure of a pair of homologous chromosomes to separate during the first stage of meiosis; resulting in one of the daughter cells formed after division of the cell having two of one kind of a chromosome; while the other cell has less or none; diseases or disorders known as syndromes are known to result from this aberration e.g. Down’s Syndrome (Mongolism),Turner’s Syndrome, Klinefelter’s Syndrome;
    Polyploidy; this is the presence of more than two sets of chromosomes in a cell; occurs due to a failure of a cell to divide after the first stage of meiosis or after the chromosomes have replicated in mitosis; common in plants than animals; in plants, it causes some improvements such as resistance to drought, certain diseases and pests, improved yields and early maturity;
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