Genes are what determine the traits of living organisms, they are themselves made up of strands of DNA and RNA. It is genes which make up chromosomes which inturn make up cells (there are 25000 to 30000 Genes in every cell). It is genes which carry the inherent characteristics which distinguish animals, humans and plants a like. It is the combination of your parents genes which determine your height, your eye colour etc.
Although Charles Darwin wrote of gene like entity’s (he called them gemmule) they were not truly discovered until 1940 when DNA was identified as genetic material.
The Gene pool is quite literally what makes up all animals, plants and humans. It is the evolution of these gene pools which evolve species. The easiest way to see this is by looking to dogs; It was originally thought that the majority of dogs have evolved from Jackals, but the discovery of DNA showed that dogs have actually evolved from wolves not Jackals, Foxes or Coyotes. In recent years, since the discovery of genes, humans have been breeding pedigree dogs. We have had the power to mould the perfect dog, we can narrow the nose, widen the legs and thicken the fur. This is down to genes and shows evolution taking place at a noticeable speed.
The speed at which dogs have been evolved by humans in such a short space of time is staggering. In a Century dogs have been made larger, faster and stronger. If these staggering changes can take place that quickly, then just imagine the changes that can take place given millions, if not thousands of millions of years.
It is because of the discovery of genes that genetic engineering of human beings is now theoretically most possible, if not illegal. We have bred dogs for looks and strength, we have utilised our knowledge of genes to breed cows that produce huge quantities of milk or the best quality meat. The beef and milk that are consumed by the wester world has been genetically modified through breeding. There is therefore a wide consensus among scientists that, given a few lifetimes the perfect sportsman could be produced or even the perfect musician.