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Sexual reproduction lead to genetic variation.

The genetic factors, meiosis and fertilisation are the main

contributors towards this event.
Environmental factors also played an important role towards
So what is actually variation?

Differences between individuals of the same species
are known as variation.

Human, Homo sapiens the same species may vary in appearance and
They may be different in height, weight, skin colour, blood pressure,
blood group. The diagram below shows the examples of variations in

Helps to survive changes in the environment

Example, same immunity in all human being will mostly be killed by
the outbreak of a deadly viral diseases.
Variation allows the stronger, the better, the more preferred features
to be inherited.
Allow adaptation in new environment.
Speciation: create new species.
Enhance resistance.

2 types of variation: continuous and discontinous variation.

Continuous variation
When theres a complete range of measurements for a particular
Difference between individuals is not significant.
Individual characteristics undergo gradual changes.
Few at the extremes and most are at the mean or in the middle.
Form a bell shaped curved called normal distribution curve
Quantitative because its feature can be measured.
Large number of genes are involved.
Influenced by environmental factors as well.
E.g. height, weight, skin colour, intelligence.

Discontinous variation
Organisms have or do not have a particular characteristics.
No gradual changes during growth.
The characteristics fall into distinct group with no intermediate.
Gave separated bar charts to illustrate the discrete nature of the
Qualitative as its characteristics cannot be measured but can
either be present or absent.
Controlled by single gene and not influenced by environmental
E.g. Human blood group, tongue rolling, fingerprints, earlobes

Can be categorized into 2,namely genetics factors and environmental

Genetics factors (Influent both continuous and discontinous variation)
Crossing over in meiosis I
Independent assortment of chromosome
Random fertilization
Environmental factors (Influent discontinous variation only)
Sunlight exposure

Both genetics and environmental factors together can lead variations.

Occurs during prophase I of meiosis.

Non-sister chromatids of chromosomes break at the chiasma and
segments of the chromatids exchange places. Thus, new
combinations of genes are produced on these chromatids.
Crossing over take place in gamete production and this lead to the
gamete with a variety of combinations of genes to be produced.

During metaphase I of meiosis,

the homologous pairs of
chromosomes are arranged on
the metaphase plate at random.
Each homologous pair of
chromosomes is positioned
relative to the poles of the cell
independent of the other pairs.
Hence, at the first meiotic
division, there s an independent
assortment of chromosome of
maternal and paternal
chromosomes into daughter cells.
This results in a great variety of

Random nature of fertilization of gametes from different parents is

another cause for genetic variations.
Any male gametes can fused with any female gametes.
Gametes with diverse combinations of homologous chromosomes
(crossing over) are fused together to form zygote further enhance
the variety of gene combinations.

Mutation is defined as the sudden random change in the genetic

composition of a cell.
Mutation can occur in somatic cells or gametes. Mutation in gametes
can be inherited to offspring and causing abnormal development in
the offspring.
Two types of mutation can be recognized, namely chromosomal
mutation and gene mutation.
Chromosomal mutation
Involved changes in the structure of chromosomes or the number
of chromosomes during meiosis.
Gene mutation
Involved chemical change in the structure of the gene.

Also known as chromosomal aberrations

Changes in chromosome structure may either change:
Total amount of genetic material within the chromosome (increase or
decrease) or
Rearrange the genetic material within a chromosome or between 2
4 types, namely:
1. Deficiencies & deletions
Change total genetic content (missing region) of chromosome.
2. Duplications
Change total genetic content (repeating segment) of chromosome.
3. Inversions
Change arrangement of chromosome.
4. Translocations
Change both arrangement of chromosome & total genetic content.
Simple translocations or reciprocal translocations

Also known as genome mutation.

Normal diploid species contain 2 haploid chromosome sets.
Occur when homologous chromosomes fail to separate during
meiosis. There is either addition or deletion of chromosomes in the
It may be the results of:
Change in the nos. of chromosomes within a set aneuploidy or
Change in the nos. of sets of chromosomes euploidy. These
numerical changes referred as variations in the ploidy (fold) of the


Number of
Chromosomes involved




An extra
chromosome 21

Male and


(44 + XO)

Absence of one
sex chromosome



(44 + XXY)

An extra X


Gene mutation
Involved chemical change (mainly bases) in the structure of the
There is an alteration in the base sequence of the DNA and thus
lead to the changing of genetic code and order of amino acids for
protein synthesis.
The alteration of DNA bases are due to the result of
Addition and deletion can lead to frameshift mutation

Sickle cell anemia

Defective gene for the synthesis of haemoglobin causes the
erythrocytes to be sickle shape
Defective gene in the synthesis of pigment melanin results in lack
of pigmentation.
Defective gene in the synthesis of functional clotting factor VIII or
factor IX (less common) results in the body inability to control
blood clotting.
Defective -globin gene which lead to the abnormal formation of

Greatly influent the continuous variation.

Examples of environmental factors that create variation:
Diet and Nutrition
Light level
Water availability

Some traits are controlled by single pair of alleles and some by

several pairs. Those controlled by several pairs are influenced by
Theses alleles interact with one another and with the environment,
resulting in continous variation.
Example: a person may inherit both tall and short genes leading to
average height. However, this height is also affected by the
environmental factors like nutrition causing further change to the

Mutagens refer to the

agent that has the
capability or tendency
to induce mutations.
Examples of mutagens
are radiation such as Xrays, ultraviolet light,
gamma rays and
chemicals such as
formaldehyde, food
pesticides, drugs and
some components of
tobacco smoke.

Proposed by Charles Darwin.

Only the fittest will be chosen for survival.