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Difference Between Genotype and Phenotype

Genotype vs Phenotype

Human genetics and Molecular biology are currently at the forefront, and the days of gene therapy are not that far away. Genetics and Hereditary Science had its foundation in the experimentations by the Augustinian priest Gregor Mendel. Heredity and genetics are founded on the premise that the genetic material of a person, the chromosomes, come from the mother and father. Usually there is an equal distribution of quantities of genetic material. These chromosomes contain discrete areas, where the nucleic acids (DNA) are arranged in specific sequences. These are the genes, which contains coded information to produce polypeptides/proteins to carry out specific tasks in the human body. These two vary in its effect, mapping of it and manipulation.


Genotype is the full genetic makeup of a cell or an organism or an animal. Genotypes are famously different in individuals so that no two persons carry the same genotype. So even if one locus, or a discrete position on the chromosome, is different between two individuals, those two are considered to have two separate genotypes. The genotype is one of the factors which decide on the external, observable characteristics of a person. Genotype is a determinant in the survival of that person and the reproductive potential. Thus, it is an intricate part in the evolutionary process. But the genotype does not determine all the factors, which are observable. This can be seen in monozygotic twins with the identical genetic makeup, but having different finger prints. Also, all the genetic information does not predict, all the external characteristics of an individual.


The phenotype is the above mentioned observable characteristics of a person or an organism. These include the morphology, biochemical properties, the physiology and the behavior patterns. The phenotype is dependent on the genotype and the environment with the environmental interactions with the genotype. The ratio of this balancing act is known as the phenotypic plasticity. Thus, greater the plasticity, greater the influence of the environment to affect the phenotype. Also, the concept of genetic canalization is also present. This concept addresses the ability to predict about the genotype based on the phenotype.

Difference between Genotype and Phenotype

The genotype and the phenotype deal with the characteristics of a person to survive and to propagate his species. Some of these are hidden like the genetic information, whilst some are observable like the external characteristics. The genotype is an important component in the characteristics of the phenotype. But the genotype does not always amount to all the characteristics of the phenotype. And all information on the genotype cannot be discerned just by studying the phenotype. Those of which corroborate the genotype and the phenotype can be linked in a genotype-phenotype map. The genotypic information can be scientifically mapped, but the phenotype is difficult to map due to the fact that it is an amalgam with other factors. Currently, the phenotype can be changed with manipulating the other factors, but the genotype is still beyond the possibility of manipulation with gene therapy.

In summary, the genotype is what we cannot see, but can be quantified with scientific means and still beyond the point of manipulation. The phenotype is the observable effect of the genotype, but not wholly dependent on it, which cannot be completely mapped as it is a dynamic process and can make changes in the phenotype with manipulation.


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