Choosing genetics research topics: Top Basics Guide

Have you ever been curious how parents pass on their physical traits to their children, or how newer plant species seem to have the same aesthetics as newer plants? All of these wonders are answered by the study of genetics. Often students struggle in picking the right topics for discussion, class assignments, and projects. Picking the right genetics research topics for study is important in getting comprehensive information and fulfilling your knowledge.

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In some cases, it could be the difference between you getting a good or bad grade in your genetics assignment. In this article we will look at a few genetic research topics and have insight on simple ways on how to choose them for your class work.

Genetics is the study of heredity in organisms with a particular focus on genes. Gregor Mendel is the father of the scientific study of genetics which he started in the 19th century. Since then, much progress has been made in the field especially with the discovery of gene sequencing and the DNA structure. Genetics is one of the main pillars of biology and branches into other areas such as agriculture, biotechnology, and medicine.

Choosing a research paper on genetics topics

To choose a good topic, you must understand the foundation of genetics is based on genes, gene variation, and DNA structure. Your topic must also include methods used in gene analysis, for example, experimental breeding, cytogenetic techniques, molecular techniques, physiological techniques, etc. Also, it should accommodate the radical and social impacts of genetics in your writing.

A great topic leaves your audience with a deep understanding and communicates complex scientific information about the topic under study.

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Genetics topics for college projects

In college, you may be assigned a genetics task if you are pursuing medicine or biological sciences. Your genetics projects for college require thorough and accurate output. You need patience and exhaustive research for great results. These will not only impress your instructor but also have an edge on your colleagues. Below are a few genetics topics for college research:

  • Pedigree analysis
  • Different drug responses in people
  • Terminating flu viruses
  • Can plants be genetically engineered to resist heavy metal toxicity
  • The cacao genome
  • Do fingerprint patterns contain an inherited quality?
  • Tracing COVID-19 genome and clinical evolution

The hottest topics in genetics

Genetics as a life science is a huge part of current trends. The most debated topics in genetics currently range from genetic engineering to home tests. Here are a few examples of hot topics in genetics:

  • Ribonucleic acid information (RNA)
  • Genes mutation
  • Prion diseases
  • Cloning
  • DNA tracking
  • Human genome project (HGP)
  • Blood group classification

Cellular and molecular genetics

Molecular genetics is the branch of genetics that deals with the assembly and function of genes at a molecular and cellular level. One of the greatest strides in molecular genetics is revealing the chemical nature of a gene.

Molecular genetics comprises the structure of genes on the DNA molecule, the reproduction of DNA, transcription of DNA into RNA, and conversion of RNA into proteins. Common techniques used in molecular genetics include gene selection, amplification, and detection. Here are common molecular genetics topics for study:

  • Gene expression and regulation
  • Molecular biotechnology
  • Cell regeneration
  • Biomolecular structure and function
  • Cell Death (Apoptosis)
  • Cellular signaling
  • Stem cell biology
  • Cellular DNA studies

Applied versus theoretical genetics

Theoretical considerations in genetics are only useful if backed by new experimental data or if they indicate significant application in an organism’s genetics. Applied genetics on the other hand is aimed at altering the genomes of organisms, to enhance their usefulness to humans.

The main goals of applied genetics include: improving the cost efficiency of products, minimizing extreme effects of food and fiber production, and refining the quality of food and fiber products. Applied genetics comprise of more interrelated fields that can be studied under different applied genetics topics. They include:

  • Epistasis in linkage analysis
  • DNA mismatch repair
  • Recombinant DNA technology
  • Genetic techniques in animal husbandry

Behavioral genetics

This area of behavioral genetics focuses on individual differences, such as personality, emotional intelligence, and intelligence quotient. Behavioral genetics is also known as psychogenetics. It also reveals differences in psychiatric disorders and abnormal behavior. The main research methods in behavioral genetics are twin, adoption, and family studies.

Behavioral genetics seeks to clarify whether virtue and behavior are influenced by the genes and environment of an organism. Relevant topics in behavioral genetics research include:

  • What twins tell us about behavioral genetics
  • Human behavior hereditability
  • Personality and psychopathology development
  • The influence of genetics on human psychological characteristics

Genetics study in neuroscience

A combinational study of genetics and neuroscience is known as neurogenetics. It involves the study of genetics’ role in the development of the nervous system. Gene sequencing has played a major role in understanding neurogenetics. Alterations in gene sequencing can adversely affect a individual’s life. Personality, behavior, and neurological diseases are studies made under neurogenetics.

Impact of genetics on human diseases

Genes are precise lengths of DNA stored in chromosomes. Genes are inherited from our parents, however, they may change.

A change in a gene is called a mutation. When a condition is caused by changes in one or more genes we call that a genetic disorder. This is a group of rare diseases caused by changes in one gene (single-gene disorders). However, common diseases are caused by a mutation in several genes combined with your environment and lifestyle choices.

Mutations are either hereditary (passed from parent to child) or acquired (happen over one’s life-time). Acquired mutations are stored in the somatic cells. These cells comprise most of your body. Acquired mutations are however not passed down to the offspring.

Genetics and its impact on human diseases are investigated in gene alteration. Diseases can be categorized according to the degree of gene mutation:

  • Mitochondrial disorders

These are rare types of disorders caused by a mutation in non-chromosomal DNA. They affect any part of the body.

  • Single gene disorders

These are diseases caused by a known mutation in one gene. Single gene disorders can be passed down to a child if both parents have the same condition. Examples of single gene disorders are sickle cell anemia, cystic fibroids, Tay-Sachs, etc.

  • Chromosomal diseases

They occur when a huge segment or an entire chromosome is altered, duplicated, or missing. They cause malfunctions or abnormalities in any of the human body’s systems. A prime example of a chromosomal disease is Down syndrome.

  • Multifactorial disorders

These are diseases caused by changes in multiple genes or interactions between genes and the environment. Examples of multifactorial diseases include asthma, diabetes, depression, schizophrenia, obesity, heart diseases, etc.

genetics research

Genetics of cancer

Cancer is a genetic disease, i.e. it is caused by gene mutations. Genes are contained in the DNA of body cells. They control the function of a body cell including:

  • How long a cell lives
  • How often a cell divides
  • How a cell grows

Genes regulate the work of a cell by making proteins that contain instructions for the cell. Cancer comes about when a gene mutates and creates an abnormal protein. An abnormal protein in turn contains atypical instructions for the cells causing uncontrollable multiplication.

Acquired mutations are the most common causes of cancer. They transpire from gene alteration in the cause of one’s life. Sporadic cancer is another name for cancer caused by acquired mutations. Acquired mutations are not inherited. Common factors responsible for gene mutations include radiation, hormones, smoking, diet, etc.

Inherited genetic mutations also known as germline mutations account for approximately 5% to 20% of all cancers. The mutation occurs in an egg cell or a sperm cell. The mutation duplicates itself into every cell within the body as the embryo grows into a baby. It can be inherited for generations.

There are three categories of cancer genes oncogenes, tumor suppressor genes, DNA repair genes. The greatest challenge in genetics and its role in cancer studies is that genes interact with the environment.  However, extensive research has led to an understanding of how cancer genes work. This has improved cancer care promoting early detection, targeted therapy, and risk reduction.

Genetic engineering and biotechnology

Genetic engineering is the direct alteration of a genome using biotechnology. It is also known as genetic modification. Biotechnology is a collection of technologies used to modify the genetic makeup of a cell. It also includes the transmission of genes within or over species boundaries to evolved or novel organisms.

Artificial syntheses of DNA or molecular cloning methods are used to isolate or copy genetic material to obtain new DNA. The DNA is then inserted into a host organism by creating a construct. These methods can also be used to remove genes from a host. Insertion of the DNA can be targeted to a particular part of the genome or random. The following are a few research topics in genetics and biotechnology:

  • Is GMO food healthy for consumption?
  • Genetic and morphological variation within a population
  • Modern plant propagation methods
  • Ways to develop non-tissue culture transformation methods
  • Production of artificial and synthetic chromosomes
  • Effects of targeted epigenetic modifications
  • Why is gene editing bad?
  • What is the difference between RNA interference and Antisense?
  • Gene expression and regulation
  • Using gene mutation to increase bone density

Genetic databases

A genetics database is one or more records of genetic data. The data could be phenotypes, genes, gene products, and variants stored in an information system. It enables users to read genetic data, augment genetic data, and process the data for information. Genetic databases act as storehouses for data detailing how organisms function. Genetics topics for presentation under genetic databases are:

  • GTEx dataset investigation of human protein gene transcripts
  • Privacy concerns in sharing genomic data
  • What are the security and trust principles in digital repositories?
  • The viability of crowdsourcing human gene mutations
  • Refining databases for human gene variation
  • The role of big data in genomics
  • Bio-banks role in identifying medical actions that will improve clinical care

Epidemiology and population genetics

Population genetics is the study of genetic differences between populations. It involves the analysis and modeling of alterations in gene and allele frequencies over some time. Genes within a population are mostly polymorphic, are distinctive in form.

Investigation and prediction of alleles are possible by mathematical modeling. A genetic pool is the set of all genes or genetic data in any population of a specific species. Here are a few genetics projects topics on epidemiology and population genetics:

  • Philosophical issues in population genetics
  • A discussion on fitness in population genetics
  • Birth defects epidemiology
  • Monogenic causes of metabolic disorders
  • Inherited disorders of pharmacogenomics

Genetics research topics in developmental genetics

Developmental genetics is the study of how genes control the growth of an organism throughout its life. Development is the process that a single cell changes into a more complex organism. For example, a single cell can develop into an elephant, orange tree, or human. Single cells go through certain stages to form organisms:

  1. Cell division-this is the process by which a parent cell form more cells
  2. Cell differentiation-this is the process of change from one cell type to another
  3. Morphogenesis- a biological process that allows a cell to form into its shape

Examples of developmental genetics topic include:

  • Stages of the biological development of an embryo to a baby
  • Effects of X chromosome inactivation in placental mammals
  • How to transfect the mouse oocyte
  • How to discriminate stage C Elegans

genetics research

Most controversial genetics topics

Despite the achievements and strides surrounding the study of genetics, there are issues about the implementation of the findings. These controversies include the ethics surrounding gene manipulation, religious perspectives of gene tampering, discrimination based on genetic information, etc. Let us look at several controversial topics in genetics:

  • Is it right for companies to patent human genes?
  • What are the effects of cloning?
  • Ordinary pregnancy versus artificial insemination
  • Adaptability to bioethics revolution by society
  • Is the growth of human organs ethical?
  • Is genetic testing necessary?

In summary, human genetics is a broad and fascinating field. It has helped us understand how organisms work, how diseases develop, among other discoveries. There is a great concern, however, that all these discoveries made in the study of genetics could be used unethically or for harmful purposes.

You should leverage on all the information in genetics to make advances in your career. Also make a point of contributing to the field id genetics through advanced study and research. Going through several genetics research topics gives one insight into what genetics is all about, its advantages, challenges, and disadvantages.

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