Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Terrific Toes

So I'm back on my toe kick again...all nails intact.

I discovered a few years ago that my stubby toes (probably cut off by a lawnmower, according to my cousin Tony) are actually a recessive trait. Not a disorder...just a trait. For those of you who have forgotten your High School Biology, this means that each of my parents contributed a recessive allele. Since it is fairly rare, I have chosen to highlight and explore this trait with my classes...and my family.

Last Easter, when we were all gathered to celebrate, I asked my parents, Steve's parents, Steve and the kids if I could photograph their feet. Most were definitely against it but gave in one by one (call it peer pressure). As a result, I have created a beautiful pedigree chart that will be a fantastic learning tool for my genetics lessons for years to come. Displayed on the closet doors, boys and girls alike marvel at the life-size photographs and wonder how I got everyone to take their shoes off! They try to figure out the genotype of each individual based on his or her phenotype. A few of us have unknown genotypes because more information is needed to know for sure. We can tell that the kids are both heterozygous (Tt) given that they have a long second toe but a mom who is recessive (tt). In this way, I remind my students that I can have grandchildren with the trait since my kids are carriers and that I'll be checking out Julie and Z's possible spouses for their toe potential...do I hear beach week?

Thanks to my family for their contribution to science education. It's all about trying to make sense of the world around us and making the concepts tangible and relevant. Who knows, those toes may someday inspire someone to study genetics...or at least to get a pedicure.

With this year's Easter celebration just weeks away, be frightened...be very, very frightened. I may just be looking for attached vs. free-hanging earlobes...or maybe even a hitch-hiker's thumb.



At 4:14 PM, Blogger Jaimie Smith said...

This made me laugh out loud! I always loved genetics in school. Any clue if hypotonicity (low muscle tone) is recessive or since ADHD is what, 80% heritability, does that mean it's dominant (unlikely if it's 20% or so of the population) does it ave to come from both parents? You always did have a thing for toes. Mine would break your camera.
Miss you!


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