This lesson is an introduction to Mendel's Laws of Inheritance for students in grades 5 through 8. By studying inherited traits in humans, such as tasting PTC paper and inherited traits in plants such as maize, we can understand how traits are passed down through generations. A discussion of dominant and recessive traits in humans will encourage students to further explore their inheritance as well as their family inheritance.
Originally published on our Greenomes website, this laboratory investigates a bronze (bz) mutant of maize to analyze the molecular relationship between genotype and phenotype. The Bz gene encodes an enzyme that catalyzes an important step in the biosynthesis of anthrocyanins ― red, purple, and blue pigments in plants. Wild-type Bz kernels are dark purple, while a transposon insertion in the Bz gene abolishes anthocyanin production, leaving kernels dark yellow or Bronze. The bz mutation also affects stem and leaf coloration.