The key difference between clone and strain is that clone is a genetically identical organism to its progenitor while strain is a genetic variant or subtype of an organism.
Clone and strain are two concepts used when defining organisms. Clone is a genetically identical cell, cell product, aggregate of cells, or organism. Its genetic makeup is similar to the parent or the ancestor. On the other hand, a strain is a genetic variant or a subtype. Within one species, there can be many strains that are characterized by serologic or biochemical reactions, phage or bacteriocin sensitivity, pathogenicity, or other characteristics.
What is a Clone?
A clone is an organism that is genetically identical to its parent. A clone has the same genetic makeup as the original. In simple words, it is a copy of the progenitor. Generally, clones are produced by asexual reproduction. A clone can be a cell, cell product or organism. It also can be an aggregate of genetically identical cells produced asexually from a single cell.
Clones can also be produced from plants. Therefore, plant cloning produces genetically identical plants from an original plant. In gene cloning, a specific DNA fragment is inserted into a cloning vector and transformed into a host cell, and the host cell is allowed to multiply, bearing the gene clones.
What is a Strain?
A strain is a genetic variant or a subtype of an organism. A strain is often classified below the species level. Strains are of medical interest. When there is an outbreak of a disease, it is necessary to identify a causative agent and its genetic variants or strains. Within a species, strains can differ by the disease they produce, their environmental habitat, and many other characteristics. For example, E. coli is a bacterium that lives in the intestine of healthy people. E. coli is not a harmful bacterium. But a strain of E. coli (E. coli O157:H7) causes severe stomach cramps, bloody diarrhoea and vomiting.
The identification of a strain is difficult compared to the identification of a species. Pathogenic or epidemic strains can be classified by the presence of a specific plasmid, by their plasmid profile, or by bacteriophage susceptibility patterns (phage typing). Difficulties come in the identification of strains when atypical strains or rare or newly described species are not in the database.
In classification, strains are grouped together when they show common serologic or biochemical reactions, phage or bacteriocin sensitivity, pathogenicity, or other characteristics. Moreover, strains are characterized by their differing isoforms of surface proteins.
What is the Similarity Between Clone and Strain?
- Clone and strain are two terms used in biology to define organisms.
What is the Difference Between Clone and Strain?
Clone is a genetically identical cell, cell product or organism while a strain is a genetic variant or subtype within one species. So, this is the key difference between clone and strain. The genetic makeup of the clone is similar to the parent while the genetic makeup of the strain is different from the other strains.
Below is a summary of the difference between clone and strain in tabular form.
Summary – Clone vs Strain
Clone is a genetically identical organism. Therefore, a clone has the same genetic makeup as the parent organism. In contrast, a strain is a genetic variant or a subtype. It can be produced due to a specific set of mutations. In medical microbiology, the identification of strains is very important in order to prevent pandemic diseases. Thus, this is the summary of the difference between clone and strain.
1. Baron, Ellen Jo. “Classification.” Medical Microbiology. 4th Edition., U.S. National Library of Medicine, 1 Jan. 1996, Available here.
2. “Clone (Cell Biology).” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 12 May 2020, Available here.