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Maternal effect

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Do not confuse with the pseudoscientific theory of Maternal impression

A maternal effect, in genetics, is the phenomena where the genotype of a mother is expressed in the phenotype of its offspring, unaltered by paternal genetic influence. This is usually attributed to maternally produced molecules, such as mRNAs, that are deposited in the egg cell. Maternal effect genes often affect early developmental processes such as axis formation.

This term may also be used to describe maternal inheritance, in which some aspect of an offspring's genotype is inherited solely from the mother. This is often attributed to maternal inheritance of mitochondria or plastids, which each contain their own genome. This phenomenon is distinct from the first phenomenon because in maternal inheritance the individual's phenotype reflects its own genotype, not necessarily the genotype of its parent.

The development of phenotype
Key concepts: Genotype-phenotype distinction | Norms of reaction | Gene-environment interaction | Heritability | Quantitative genetics
Genetic architecture: Dominance relationship | Epistasis | Polygenic inheritance | Pleiotropy | Plasticity | Canalisation | Fitness landscape
Non-genetic influences: Epigenetic inheritance | Epigenetics | Maternal effect | dual inheritance theory
Developmental architecture: Segmentation | Modularity
Evolution of genetic systems: Evolvability | Mutational robustness | Evolution of sex
Influential figures: C. H. Waddington | Richard Lewontin
Debates: Nature versus nurture
List of evolutionary biology topics
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