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Genome Definition: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Lindsy Frazer

Dr. Frazer has taught several college level Science courses and has a master's degree in Human Biology and a PhD in Library and Information Science.

Did you know that every living thing has a unique set of instructions for building its body? Learn what a genome is, what it is made of and how a genome affects what you look like in this lesson.

Genes and Genomes

Imagine that you have been invited to a kitten party. I hope you remember to bring some cat treats! When you get there, cats are running all over the place. One cat has long, orange fur, while another cat has very short grey fur. Some of the cats have stripes. One cat has a long fluffy tail, and another has a short stubby one.

A cats appearance is determined by its genes.
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A cat's traits, or characteristics, like fur color, fur length and tail size, are determined by its genes. Genes are sections of information on DNA that determine how an organism's body develops. DNA is like a recipe for a living thing's body, and genes are the individual instructions that make up the recipe.

A cat has a little over 20,000 different genes. These 20,000 instructions determine what color the cat's eyes will be, how long its tail will grow, even what its meow will sound like.

A living thing's complete set of genetic instructions - or all of its genes - is called a genome. A genome has all of the information needed to build an entire organism and for that living thing to grow and stay alive.

Human Genes and Genomes

Every living thing - each flower, each dog and each person - has its own unique genome. This means your genome is one of a kind. You are the only human alive with your specific set of genetic instructions.

The genetic information that makes up a genome is inherited, or passed down, from an organism's parents. For each trait, we inherit two copies of a gene: one from our mom and one from our dad. Humans have approximately 19,000 genes.

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