Some of the more complex terms used in this guide are listed below.


Allele – A distinct variation of a gene. Each gene codes for a single protein but there can be different variations of a gene that produce modified versions of the same protein.

Dominant – Dominant alleles of a gene mask other less aggressive versions of a gene. Dominant alleles only need one copy to show. An allele can be dominant (stronger then) some alleles and recessive (weaker then) other alleles.

Eumelanin – Literally true black but meaning true pigment. Black pigment in skin and hair. As opposed to pheomelanin.

Pheomelanin – Literally dusky black but meaning brown or dusky pigment. A yellow orange pigment.

Recessive – Recessive alleles of a gene are masked by other more aggressive alleles. Recessive alleles need two copies to show. An allele can be dominant (stronger than) some alleles and recessive (weaker than) other alleles.

Somatic Mutation – A mutation in the DNA that only affects the body (soma) but does not affect the reproductive (germ) cells. This mutation can show on the individual but can never be passed down because the sperm or eggs do not carry it.

Metabolic Pathway - A chain of controlled chemical reactions inside the body that turns one product into another.

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