Kentucky Blue People Homework

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The Eastern Kentucky Blue Fugate Pedigree
The year is 1975. You are a young physician working in a maternity ward near Hazard,
Kentucky. One night, you are called to attend a newborn boy, Ben Stacy, who is in good
health in all respects except for his dark blue skin. You have lived around Hazard long
enough to remember tales about the ‘Blue Fugates’ of Troublesome Creek. You wonder
if Ben is related to the Fugates, so you interview his relatives and piece together the
following genealogy. In the early 1800’s, one of Ben’s ancestors, Zachariah ‘Ball Creek
Zack’ Fugate married Mary Smith. Ball Creek Zack and Mary had 12 children, two of
whom, John ‘John Blue’, and Lorenzo ‘Blue Anze’, were blue. Ball Creek Zack’s sister,
Hannah Fugate married James Ritchie by whom she had a normal son and daughter.
Mary’s sister, Elizabeth Smith, married Martin Fugate, a distant cousin of Ball Creek
Zack. Elizabeth and Martin had eleven children; none were blue. One of their
sons, Levi Fugate married Hannah and James’ daughter Mahala Ritchie. Levi and
Mahala had 8 children, 7 were normal, but their daughter Luna was blue. Luna married
John Stacy and the couple had 13 normal children. One of Luna and John’s sons (name
unknown) fathered Alva Stacey who is not blue. Alva married Hilda Gosney (also
normal) and they had Ben (born blue).
Create a Fugate family pedigree diagram by putting the number of each listed person
next to the appropriate symbol.
to remember:
Siblings are connected by brackets
Spouses are connected by a horizontal line
Children are connected to parents by a vertical line
Use open circles or squares for non-affected (not-blue) people (Homozygous for
the trait)
 Fill in the circle or square for affected (blue) people (Homozygous for the trait)
 Shade half the square or circle for carriers (Heterozygous for the trait)
1. Zachariah ‘Ball Creek Zack’ Fugate
2. Mary Smith
3. Hannah Fugate
4. James Ritchie
5. Elizabeth Smith
6. Martin Fugate
7. John ‘John Blue’ Fugate
8. Lorenzo ‘Blue Anze’ Fugate
9. Levi Fugate
10. Mahala Ritchie
11. Luna Ritchie
12. John Stacy
13. Luna and John’s son
14. Alva Stacey
15. Hilda Gosney
16. Ben Stacey
After two days of testing, you determined that Ben Stacey’s blue skin color is
caused by methemoglobinemia. This condition results from the persistence of oxidized
iron in hemoglobin which prevents normal oxygen saturation in red blood cells. This results in
blood with a chocolate hue, or appearance in color. There are several genetic disorders that
lead to methemoglobinemia. Before Alva and Hilda took Ben back home to a remote area of
Hazard County, you tried to help them understand the genetic basis for their son’s blue
1. Based on the pedigree, do you tell the Stacey’s that their son’s mutation is
dominant or recessive? Why?
2. Which of the listed people must be heterozygous for the trait?
A few weeks after Ben Stacey returned home, his parents called to tell you that
he had lost his blue skin tone and appeared normal except that his lips and fingernails
turn blue when he is cold or angry. Family stories report that Ben’s blue ancestors were
blue throughout their lives. Over the course of the next few years, you research many
case histories of blue Eskimo people and you discover that people heterozygous for
mutations that cause methemoglobinemia are blue only during their first few weeks
of life. People homozygous for the same mutations are blue throughout their lives.
3. Does this change your answer to question #1? If so, how?
4. If Ben were to have four children with a homozygous recessive (blue) female
Fugate, how many of their children would be blue? (Hint: set up a Punnett square)

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