In classical biology, genetics is the study of inheritance in living organisms. Here, we attempt to describe many of the most important constant terms that you will encounter in the synthetic biology field using analogies that you may be more familiar with. Genetics is an enormous field formed of many specialities, and can be confusing to the newcomer, but it is perhaps best to think of it as a descriptive engineering discipline concerned with how organisms create the information systems that define how they execute the process of life itself.
To appreciate the importance of genetics, you will first need to know about the central dogma of biology: DNA codes for RNA which is translated into proteins, which are the biological 'machines' at work in cells.
The genome represents the entire genetic material of an organism. It refers to the total DNA present within a single cell of an organism and has all the information required to produce a complete organism. The genome includes both genes (coding regions) and non-coding sequences of DNA.
Genes carry the information required to build, maintain and replicate an organism's cells. All organisms have genes involved in various biological traits, some of which are instantly visible, such as eye color or number of limbs, and some of which are not, such as blood type, increased risk for specific diseases, or the thousands of basic biochemical processes that comprise life.
Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) is apolymeric molecule (one composed of a chain of individual units) that encodes the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms and many viruses.
In much the same way that nucleotides are the 'building blocks' of DNA, amino acids are the monomers that make up proteins. As mRNA is read, amino acids are chemically linked together to form polypeptides through a process called translation.
Cells are the basic functioning units of an organism. Unicellular organisms exist as only one cell while multicellular organisms contain multiple cells, sometimes even trillions. Cells have two main characteristics. Theyexchange energy with their environment to survive, and theycontain genetic instructions in the form of DNA for how to function. This allows eachcellto produce and replace its own components, as well as to replicate itself entirely.