What is the Difference Between Genotype and Phenotype?
The difference between genotype and phenotype is very important. Especially because students confuse them both more often than not. Therefore, it's important to learn the genotype and phenotype difference firsthand. They are among the most important terms from genetics, an equally important area of study for NEET students.
But, where to find these differences? In this article itself! You'll not only have access to the 18- difference between genotype and phenotype, but also some interesting characteristics they exhibit!
Last updated date: 21st Sep 2023
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Definition: What is Genotype and Phenotype?
To understand the difference between genotype and phenotype is to explain genotype and phenotype. Keeping that in mind, the below section covers the definition for both genotype and phenotype.
Genotype is the hereditary information of an organism, in the form of genes present in the DNA which remains constant throughout life. It is like an “instruction manual” that we inherit from our parents and is like a set of blueprints that determine our traits and characteristics. Genotype is like tiny units of information unique to each organism and is responsible for blood group, eye color, height, and genetic diseases.
The outer appearance of an organism or the visible physical characteristics are known as phenotypes. When genes express themselves externally, that is the phenotype of that organism. It is like the “final product” that is shaped by our genes and the environment we live in. It includes physical traits such as eye color, hair, physique as well as behavior and abilities. If you wish to understand it, try it by applying the complex interplay between- the environment and genetic inheritance.
Difference Between Genotype and Phenotype
The genotype and phenotype share various differences. Among those many differences, 18 are shared in the table below:
Genetic makeup of an organism
Observable traits in an organism like physical or biochemical traits of an organism
Represents the genes present in an individual
Represents the physical expression of those genes
Comprises alleles inherited from parents
Comprises physical characteristics and traits
Basis of Variation
Result of genetic recombination and mutations
Result of gene expression and interactions with the environment
Stable and relatively unchanged throughout life
Can change throughout an organism's life
Analysed through genetic techniques like DNA sequencing
Observed through direct examination or experiments
Passed down from parents to offspring
Can be inherited from parents but also influenced by the environment
Influences the traits an organism can potentially exhibit
Determines the actual traits an organism displays
Basis of Evolution
Provides the raw material for natural selection
Affected by natural selection and environmental factors
Provides the blueprint for phenotype
Represents the outward manifestation of the genotype
Can carry genetic disorders without exhibiting symptoms
Can exhibit symptoms of genetic disorders
Role in Evolution
Determines the potential for evolutionary change
Drives evolutionary change through natural selection
Homozygous, heterozygous, recessive, dominant, etc.
Observable traits, morphological features, physiological functions, etc.
Affected by gene regulation mechanisms
Influenced by environmental factors and gene regulation mechanisms
Impact of Environment
Genotype interacts with the environment
Phenotype is influenced by the environment
Can be passed onto future generations
Cannot be directly passed onto future generations
Molecular genetics, population genetics
Developmental biology, evolutionary biology, and ecology
AA, Aa, aa (genetic code)
Eye color, height, hair type, blood type, etc.
Let's Elaborate: Characteristics of Genotype and Phenotype
When one thinks of- what is genotype and phenotype, what's the first thing that comes to mind? That's right, it's the characteristics of genotype and phenotype. But, to explain genotype and phenotype we discussed many characteristics earlier only. Isn't that right? So, what's special in the ones discussed below? They are unique and lesser known ones.
Some lesser known characteristics of genotype are:
The genetic blueprint refers to the complete set of genetic information or instructions present in an organism's DNA. It represents the genetic structure of an organism, including all the genes and their specific sequence.
Hidden genetic variations refer to the mutations or genetic variations in an organism that is not physically apparent or observable phenotypically. It increases the complexity of genetic traits and evolutionary processes.
There is future potential in medicine, genetics, evolutionary understanding of organisms, synthetic biology, improved disease risk prediction, etc with the further knowledge and exploration of hidden genetic variations.
Some lesser known characteristics of phenotypes to understand the genotype and phenotype difference better are:
The observable expression refers to the physical or observable characteristics of an organism. It is a result of genes interacting with environmental factors. Mostly during development and then an organism's complete life.
There are times when a trait or characteristic in an organism is based on the complex interplay between multiple factors. These factors usually involve- environment and genetic factors. This is the special case of multifactorial influence. Simply put, this term is defined as the expression of traits is determined by multiple factors.
Subject to Change:
Subject to change is the characteristic of phenotypes that shows that they are modified time and time again. It can be a result of environmental impacts or genetic modifications.
To conclude the above article is nearly equivalent to concluding the complete concepts of- what is genotype and phenotype and everything surrounding it. Why? Because it covers everything there is to learn about the difference between genotype and phenotype. Alongside this, there are also sections covering the characteristics (unique) in both genotype and phenotype. Closely following it, is the section to explain genotype and phenotype in the easiest way possible. It all makes the above article a very good kickstart to your journey into genetics!
FAQs on Genotype and Phenotype Difference
1. Is the color of your eye a phenotype?
Yes, the color of our eye is a phenotype as the outer appearance determines it. As genotypes are the exact DNA that is inherited from the parent on the other hand phenotypes are the resulting traits. Parents don’t pass down an eye color directly, they pass down an allele. If the allele passed down by the blue eyed parents is- blue, and brown for the brown eyed parent, the child will have a blue-brown genotype. Alongside this, the phenotype the child exhibits will be brown.
2. Are red eyes an expression of genotype?
Typically, red eyes are not the expression of genotype because it is not natural in most cases and can be caused due to specific external, medical conditions or genetic disorders. Some medical conditions for instance albinism are a result of genetic mutation. And in this case mutate the gene that produces melanin. Therefore, marking albinism with an eye appearing red or pink, it's a sign showing the lack of pigmentation. Or it can be a temporary effect caused by external factors such as dust, smoke, or chemical exposure.
3. Which are the best examples that explain genotype and phenotype?
Genes are a unique set of instructions more like a blueprint that is directly inherited from the parent. Whereas phenotype is the visible trait resulting from the interaction of genes with the outer environment. Genotype in a person is responsible for determining their eye color, blood type, height, hair texture, etc. On the other hand, phenotype determines visible traits such as skin tone, body type, facial features, different behavior, and abilities.