Kernel Color in Wheat

To illustrate how multiple genes acting on a characteristic can produce a continuous range of phenotypes, let us examine one of the first demonstrations of polygenic inheritance. Nilsson-Ehle studied kernel color in wheat and found that the intensity of red pigmentation was determined by three unlinked loci, each of which had two alleles.

Nilsson-Ehle obtained several homozygous varieties of wheat that differed in color. Like Mendel, he performed crosses between these homozygous varieties and studied the ratios of phenotypes in the progeny. In one experiment, he crossed a variety of wheat that possessed white kernels with a variety that possessed purple (very dark red) kernels and obtained the following results:

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