What is a gene?

1 Answer
Oct 11, 2015

A gene is the basic unit of inheritance.


A gene is the basic unit of inheritance. It is what is passed on from one generation to another. One gene is inherited from each parent. All living organisms are made up of genes.

Genes are made up of DNA and provide instructions so that our body can make proteins. Some genes also turn on or off other genes.


Genes can vary in their size and multiple genes may encode for one trait or phenotype.

Humans have between 20,000-25,000 genes compared to water fleas which have 31,000 genes (source).

For more information on genes and closely connected topics, check out the following Socratic questions: genotype, genes and chromosomes, why DNA is called the blueprint of life, and genes and alleles.