Difference Between Gene and Trait

Gene vs Trait

Since gene and trait are two intertwined terms used in genetics but not the same, we must be very clear with the difference between gene and trait. Briefly, genes have the information, which determines the formation of proteins in the body. These proteins ultimately design the structure of all organisms. Thus, genes determine the characteristics (traits) of all organisms. This is the key difference between gene and trait, but the main focus of this article to elaborate more on the difference between gene and trait while explaining the individual terms sufficiently.

What is a Gene?

Gregor Mendel was the first person to describe the existence of genes and their inheritance patterns. He explained the inheritance of traits in terms of inherited characteristics and did not use the term ‘gene’. The term ‘Gene’ is lately evolved with the development of Genetics. Gene is a segment of DNA, which contains instructions to form proteins. Each gene has a specific sequence of base pairs, which determines the structure and function of a specific protein. Genes are the blueprints of all the traits in the body. They determine most of the characteristic features of organisms and are able to pass these characteristic features to next generations; the process called heredity. These characteristic features are known as traits, some of which are visible and some are not.

Difference Between Gene and Trait

What is a Trait?

The specific characteristics of individual determined by the genes are called traits. However, certain traits are determined by environmental condition or both inherited genes and environmental factors. Some traits are passed on from parents to offspring, and these types of traits are referred to as inherited traits. A single gene determines several traits and certain traits are determined by few genes. Some traits are observable (ex: hair color, skin color, eye color, etc.) and some are not (ex: blood group, risk for specific diseases, etc.). Observable traits also are called phenotypic traits.


What is the difference between Gene and Trait?

• Traits are controlled by genes or environmental factors.

• The characteristics of individuals are called traits whereas, molecular units of heredity of individuals are called genes.

• Genes determine the structure and the function of proteins and these proteins ultimately result in traits.

• Unlike traits, genes are located on chromosomes in the nucleus of cells.


Images Courtesy:

  1. Close up of a human iris by 8thstar (CC BY-SA 3.0)