Human Genetics

6. Pedigree Analysis

Pedigree Analysis

A pedigree is a chart which shows the inheritance of a trait over several generations. A pedigree is commonly created for families, and it outlines the inheritance patterns of genetic disorders. Figure below shows a pedigree depicting recessive inheritance of a disorder through three generations. Scientists can tell the genetics of inheritance from studying a pedigree, such as whether the trait is sex-linked (on the X or Y chromosome) or autosomal (on a chromosome that does not determine sex), whether the trait is inherited in a dominant or recessive fashion, and possibly whether individuals with the trait are heterozygous or homozygous.

In a pedigree, squares symbolize males, and circles represent females. A horizontal line joining a male and female indicates that the couple had offspring. Vertical lines indicate offspring which are listed left to right, in order of birth. Shading of the circle or square indicates an individual who has the trait being traced. The inheritance of the recessive trait is being traced. A is the dominant allele and a is recessive.