Difference Between Gene and Allele

Gene vs Allele

Gene and allele are basically what make us who we are. They are genetic sequences of our DNA, although gene is a more general term than allele. To make an example: humans have facial hair. It can be thick or patchy. The first statement is a gene, the latter an allele.


Genes are the basic instructions for all life forms. All living things are dependent on genes for survival, as genes specify all proteins and functional RNA chains. Genes also contain the information and instructions to build and maintain our cells, and pass them on to our offspring. Genes not only tell us what we’ll look like, but also determine what kind of diseases we will be more vulnerable to.


Alleles are variants of a gene. When someone says this person got good genes, they are referring to an allele. They occur in pairs and produce opposite phenotypes that, by nature, are contrasting. If an allele has homogenous genes, then they are called homozygous. If they are different, they are called heterozygous. And heterozygous alleles will have a dominant and a recessive allele.

Difference between Gene and Allele

Genes are the parts of the DNA that determine what traits a person will have, while alleles are the different sequences of that DNA and they determine what kind of characteristics those traits will have. Alleles also occur in pairs, having a recessive and a dominant part. Genes don’t have any pairing at all. Also alleles can be either homozygous or heterozygous while genes don’t have such differentiation. Basically, an allele is just different types of the same gene. If there is a gene for hair color, one allele will be for black hair, the other for brown hair.

Alleles and genes are equally important in the development of all forms of life, and their differences can be seen in every living thing. The best example of how they manifest is you.

In brief:

– Genes are the basic instructions for all life forms and are inherited from our parents. They contain information and instruction not only for our physical attributes, but also as to what kind of diseases we may be vulnerable to.

– Alleles are the different variants of a gene and they occur in pairs. They are further classified as dominant or recessive and homozygous or heterozygous. They determine what traits we inherit.

  • http://profiles.google.com/michel.enns Michel Enns

    - Alleles don’t always occur in pairs. There can be more than two variations of a gene.
    – Different alleles don’t always produce “opposite” or even different phenotypes.
    – Some genes will have dominant and recessive alleles but not all sometimes a heterozygous allele will produce a intermediate phenotype between the phenotypes of the the two homozygous combinations of the gene.