All living organisms have genes. In the late 1800s, scientists discovered genes control inheritance of certain traits. In the 1950s, the molecule deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), present in genes, was discovered to have a unique double-helix structure of two intertwining strands. It was this discovery that led to our understanding that DNA is the blueprint for all life. Modern genetics continues to explore the mechanics of how this molecule works. Conservation biologists and geneticists work together to understand how the information encoded in DNA affects the health of individual animals as well as animal populations. Our understanding of Florida panther population genetics has greatly informed our management, conservation and recovery decisions.