|"Are you a wizard or not?"
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Magic genes are portions of human DNA that determine whether a person will have magical abilities. Those people born with the genes active are witches and wizards, while those who are not are Muggles or Squibs.
Magic genes are dominant, and any child born to a wizarding family will have some degree of magical ability, or at least magical awareness. Squibs, while unable to use magic, are still able to function within the wizarding world to a limited degree. The descendants of squibs who instead integrate into the Muggle world and marry will usually be Muggles, although the magical abilities occasionally resurface in later generations producing a Muggle-born witch or wizard.
It is not clear how the expression of the genes (or lack of it) produces Squibs or Muggles, or how Muggle-borns manifest their abilities the same way as Half-bloods or Pure-bloods. It is unknown how many genes are involved in the ability to perform magic - only the existance of an on/off switch can be inferred from available data.
Behind the scenes
- J.K. Rowling stated that she had considered having Dudley Dursley have a magical child in the epilogue, and see them off to Hogwarts at Platform 9¾ at the same time as Harry and his family. She decided against this, however, stating that any latent wizarding genes would never survive contact with Uncle Vernon's DNA.
- According to J.K. Rowling, nobody knows where magic comes from.