Thursday, August 11, 2005

Harry Potter and the recessive allele

Nature.com has posted a fascinating article which explains how children as young as five can learn the concepts of mendelian genetics by using the idea of Muggle-born, pure- and half-blood in the Harry Potter world.

Wizards or witches can be of any race, and may be the offspring of a wizard and a witch, the offspring of two muggles ('muggle-born'), or of mixed ancestry ('half-blood').

This suggests that wizarding ability is inherited in a mendelian fashion, with the wizard allele (W) being recessive to the muggle allele (M). According to this hypothesis, all wizards and witches therefore have two copies of the wizard allele (WW). Harry's friends Ron Weasley and Neville Longbottom and his arch-enemy Draco Malfoy are 'pure-blood' wizards: WW with WW ancestors for generations back. Harry's friend Hermione is a powerful muggle-born witch (WW with WM parents). Their classmate Seamus is a half-blood wizard, the son of a witch and a muggle (WW with one WW and one WM parent). Harry (WW with WW parents) is not considered a pure-blood, as his mother was muggle-born.

2 comments:

RosemaryRuth said...

On a thoroughly unrelated note: I just ate a whole bunch of chicken from the free lunch at the clinic and it was good. It was chicken on the bone, and there were some parts in there that I did not recognize, they were not quite skin, were not quite cartilage, were not quite bone. But they tasted like chicken, so I ate them. And they were good. And this made me think of you.

Austen said...

http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v437/n7057/full/437318d.html

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