Analyzing Genetics With a Testcross

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  • 00:00 Testcross
  • 1:04 Using a Testcross
  • 4:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Muscato

Chris has a master's degree in history and teaches at the University of Northern Colorado.

Genetic experiments can get pretty complicated. Sometime you just need a simple, reliable method for testing genetics, and that's where the testcross comes in handy. In this lesson we will look at what this is and how to use it.


Let's describe these two chinchillas. Why chinchillas? Because I think they're cuter than rats. Now, if I asked you to describe the phenotypes of these chinchillas, you could do that pretty easily. All you have to do is look at them. The phenotype is a physical characteristic. So we can say that phenotypically, these chinchillas have dark fur. That was easy. Now let's describe their genotype, their genetic make-up. Can you tell what it is? No, you can't, but there are ways that we can test it. We could take a blood sample and map out chinchilla DNA, or we could use a common experiment to establish the genotype of an individual organism, called a testcross. The basic idea is that an individual with unknown genotype is bred with an individual whose genotype is known. The resulting offspring should be able to tell us the genotype of the unknown parent. All right. Let's do some science--some adorable, fluffy science.

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