Introduction to Genetics and the Environment

What you’ll learn to do: Discuss the role environment plays on phenotypes

In recent years, scientists have begun to research how our environment can impact our phenotypes: most common diseases are a result of both your genes and your environment. Your environment can include personal choices, such as what foods you eat and how much you exercise, and external factors, such as stress, clean water, and air quality. Most diseases, especially common diseases, are a combination of your genetic risk and your environment. Only a small number of diseases are a result of just a single mutation in a gene. Examples of these single-gene disorders are Huntington disease and Tay Sachs.

It is becoming difficult to group diseases into either purely “genetic” or “environmental” because most diseases are a little bit of both. For example, emphysema can be the result of both smoking and a disorder called alpha-1-AT deficiency.

In this outcome, we’ll learn about a few different ways our environment can impact us.