When explaining epigenetics, one may first have to understand what is meant by a gene.
A gene is a sequence of DNA bases that code or correspond to a certain protein within an organism. These genes lead to the expression of one’s genotype which is called the phenotype. In earlier insights into biology and genetics to be specific biologists believed that only the DNA sequence determined a phenotype however, further research has led to the establishment of epigenetics. Epigenetics is the research of heritable changes in gene expression which shows how one’s phenotype can change through the active or inactive expression of genes without a change in the underlying DNA sequence 1. These changes or activation of genes happen through the addition of certain molecules or chemicals to the genetic code to make the genes either accessible or non-accessible to enzymes. These changes are said to be influenced through diet, chemical exposure and medication.
However, the word epigenetics was not always used to describe this genetic concept. Until the 1950s the word was used less specifically by a man named Conrad Waddington to categorize the different events that occurred to explain the changes and growth of a zygote into a mature organism 2. Although Waddington’s concept seemed broad he started the basis of the understanding into epigenetics. Today epigenetics is advancing within science the definition and understanding into genetics is more sophisticated than it ever was before due to the growing research.
Observations into organisms such as unicellular fungi and mammals has helped generate the current concept of epigenetics allowing us as humans to advance and expand our comprehension not only into our lives but the lives of the organisms that we share this world with 3.