Difference Between Genotype and Phenotype

Edited by Diffzy | Updated on: August 17, 2022


Difference Between Genotype and Phenotype Difference Between Genotype and Phenotype

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Phenotype and genotype sound remarkably similar to one another. They do, however, differ greatly from one another. Even if both phrases refer to the same organism, there is a significant difference between the terminology as a whole. Now, let’s understand the differences between a genotype and a phenotype in a bit more detail.

Genotype vs. Phenotype

A cell's genotype is a component of its genetic makeup. In other words, it is a group of genes that are thought to be in charge of an organism's distinct and varied qualities or characteristics. On the other hand, the term "phenotype" is used to describe an organism's observable traits. Phenotype, to put it simply, is an organism's outward appearance or physical characteristics.

Difference Between Genotype and Phenotype in Tabular Form

Table: Genotype vs. Phenotype
Parameters of Comparison
The term "genotype" refers to the collection of genes that determine an organism's distinct traits.
The term "phenotype" describes an organism's traits or outward physical appearance.
It’s present inside the body of an organism in the form of genes.
This one expresses the genes in external appearances.
Processes Involved
Genotype is determined using scientific techniques like a polymerase chain reaction.
An organism's phenotype can be discovered via straightforward observation.
Only the genes inherited from the parent have an impact on it.
In addition to the genotype, additional factors like the environment and other factors also have an impact.
Blood group, genetic diseases

What is Genotype?

Now, an organism's genotype is made up of all of its genetic components. The alleles or variations that a person holds in a specific gene or genetic region are also referred to as the genotype. The number of copies of each chromosome found in that organism, also known as ploidy, determines how many alleles a person can have for a certain gene. In diploid organisms like humans, there are two complete sets of chromosomes, which means that each person has two different alleles for each gene. Homozygous refers to a genotype when both alleles are the same. Heterozygous refers to a genotype when there are two distinct alleles.

Now, Phenotype, the observable qualities, and attributes of an individual or creature influenced by genotype. Moreover, depending on the trait, genetics can influence phenotype to vary degrees. For instance, genotype alone determines the petal color of a pea plant. Also, studies show that depending on the alleles present in the pea plant, the petals can be either purple or white. Other features, however, are only somewhat influenced by genotype.

Because they are impacted by additional elements, such as environmental and epigenetic influences, these traits are frequently referred to as complex traits. Because appearance and behavior are influenced by environmental and growing situations, even people with the same genotype do not all look or behave the same. Similar to how not all organisms with similar appearances share the same genotype. Wilhelm Johannsen, a Danish botanist, first used the term genotype in 1903.

The inheritance of traits that are solely governed by genotype often follows a Mendelian pattern. Gregor Mendel, who experimented with pea plants to ascertain how features were handed down from generation to generation, detailed these rules of heredity in great detail.

He focused on traits that were simple to see, like seed form, petal color, and plant height. He was able to notice that all of the progeny would have the same phenotype if he crossed two true-breeding plants with different phenotypes. For instance, if he crossed a tall plant with a short plant, the offspring would all be tall plants. However, around one-fourth of the second generation of plants would be short when he self-fertilized the ones that were produced. He concluded that some qualities, like long height, were dominant, while others, like low height, were recessive.

Every phenotype Mendel examined was governed by a single gene with two alleles, even though he was not aware of this at the time. When it came to planting heigplantingne allele made the plants tall, while the other made them small. Even if the plant was heterozygous, it would grow tall if the tall allele was present. The plant is required to be homozygous for the recessive allele for it to be short.

A Punnett square can be used to show this. The genotypes of the parents are placed on the outside of a Punnett square. The dominant allele is often denoted by an uppercase letter, while the recessive allele is typically denoted by a lowercase letter. The parent genotypes can then be combined to determine the potential offspring genotypes.

In the right-hand illustration, both parents have a genotype of Bb and are heterozygous. A dominant allele from each parent may be passed on to the offspring, who would then be homozygous for the genotype BB. The offspring may be heterozygous for the genotype Bb if they acquire a dominant allele from one parent as well as a recessive allele from the other parent. A recessive allele out of each parent might also be passed down to the offspring, making them homozygous for the genotype bb. Since the B allele is dominant, plants with the BB and Bb genotypes will have identical appearances. The recessive characteristic will be present in the bb genotype plant.

It is also possible to apply these inheritance patterns to inherited illnesses or ailments in both humans and animals. Some diseases have an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern, which means that most people who have the disease also have an affected parent. An autosomal dominant condition's traditional pedigree demonstrates affected people in each generation.

Now, some other diseases have an autosomal recessive inheritance pattern, which means that affected people typically do not have an affected parent. Moreover, the parents are referred to as carriers of the disorder since both parents must carry the recessive gene for their child to be affected.

The sex of the offspring has no bearing on how likely they are to develop autosomal diseases. The sex of the offspring influences their likelihood of developing the condition in sex-related conditions. In humans, males inherit an X chromosome through their mother and a Y chromosome from their father, whereas females acquire two X chromosomes, one from each parent. Since affected dads only convey their X chromosome to their daughters, X-linked dominant conditions can be separated from autosomal dominant situations in pedigrees by the absence of transfer from fathers to sons.

Males are often more frequently impacted by X-linked recessive disorders than females since they are hemizygous and have just one X chromosome. A second X chromosome in females will stop the disease from manifesting. Because of this, females can convey the trait to their sons and are carriers of the illness.

Mendelian inheritance patterns may be complicated by other elements. Some diseases exhibit incomplete penetrance, which means that not everyone who carries the disease-causing allele exhibits the disease's signs or symptoms. Penetrance may also be age-dependent, which means that disease signs or symptoms may not become apparent until later in life. For instance, although Huntington’s disease is an autosomal dominant disorder, up to 25% of people with the afflicted genotype do not have symptoms until they are beyond the age of 50. Variable expressivity, in which people with the same genotype exhibit varying signs or symptoms of disease, is another element that can muddle Mendelian inheritance patterns. People who have polydactyly, for instance, may have one or more extra digits.

What is Phenotype?

Now, the term "phenotype" refers to a set of an organism's features or observable qualities in genetics. Also, the phrase refers to an organism's morphology, or its physical form and structure, as well as its physiological and biochemical characteristics, behavior, and the outcomes of that behavior. Plus, the genotype, or the expression of an organism's genetic code, and the impact of environmental circumstances are the two fundamental components that determine an organism's phenotype. Both elements could interact, further influencing the phenotypic.

The term "polymorphic" refers to a species that has two or more distinct phenotypes that coexist in the same population. The coloration of Labrador Retrievers is a well-known example of polymorphism; while the coat color depends on many genes, it is visible in the surroundings as yellow, black, and brown. Richard Dawkins proposed that one can think of bird nests and other man-made buildings like caddis-fly larva cases and beaver dams as "extended phenotypic" in 1978 and again in his 1982 book The Extended Phenotype.

The contrast between genotype and phenotype should not be mistaken with Francis Crick's fundamental tenet of molecular biology, which states that molecular sequential information flows from DNA to proteins and not the other way around.

The definition of the phenotype may appear basic, but it has nuances. It may appear that all genetically determined substances, including proteins and RNA, are phenotypes. Human blood types are one example of a molecule or structure that is typically coded by genetic material but cannot be seen in an organism's outward appearance but can be observed (for instance, by Western blotting) and is thus a part of the phenotypic.

With its emphasis on the (living) creature as an individual, it would appear that this goes beyond the concept's initial aims. In either case, the term "phenotype" refers to innate features, observable traits, or traits that can be made visible by a technical process. The existence of "organic molecules" or metabolites, which are produced by organisms from chemical reactions involving enzymes, is a major development of this concept. When the phenotypic difference between a mutant and its wild type is wrongly referred to as a "phenotype," the false remark that a mutation "has no phenotype" is made (if it is not substantial).

Because behaviors are observable traits, another extension includes behavior in the phenotype. Cognitive, personality, and behavioral patterns are examples of behavioral phenotypes. Certain behavioral traits may represent psychiatric syndromes or diseases.

A crucial prerequisite for evolution via natural selection is phenotypic diversity, which results from underlying heritable genetic variation. Natural selection indirectly changes the genetic makeup of a population through the contribution of phenotypes since the live organism as a whole contributes (or does not contribute) to the following generation. Natural selection-based evolution would not be possible without phenotypic diversity.

Phenotypes are frequently modified and expressed by genotypes with a great deal of flexibility; in many species, these phenotypes are quite diverse under varied environmental situations. In Sweden, Hieracium umbellatum can be found growing in two distinct environments.

Now, the plants grow bushy with broad leaves and extended inflorescences in one habitat—rocky seaside cliffs—while growing prostrate with narrow leaves and compact inflorescences in the other—dunes. Furthermore, the habitat where Hieracium umbellatum seeds land determines the phenotypic that grows. So, these habitats alternate along the coast of Sweden.

To better grasp it, the phenotype is defined as all the observable traits that result from the interaction of the genotype with the environment. This implies that phenotype can alter significantly during an organism's existence.

Main Differences Between Genotype and Phenotype In Points

  • The primary distinction between a genotype and phenotype is that the former relates to the immediately detectable physical traits, whereas the latter is present inside each cell of the body as genetic material.
  • Furthermore, because the genotype exists within the body, biological and scientific tests or techniques must be used to determine it. On the other hand, phenotype can be precisely identified by close observation of an organism.
  • Another significant distinction is that while the offspring inherit genotype from the parent(s), the entire phenotype is not inherited from the parent(s).
  • The same phenotype will inevitably result from having the same genotype, but this is not a need for the same phenotype to have the same genotype.
  • Since genotype is genetic material, only genes have an impact on it. On the other hand, the phenotype is influenced by elements other than genotype, such as non-inherited environmental elements.


In conclusion, phenotype refers to the observable characteristics of an organism, which are a result of three factors including genotype and are therefore not entirely inherited, as opposed to genotype, which is simply the genetic material present inside the cells and is inherited by the offspring from its parents.


  • Genotype. (n.d.). Retrieved from WIKIPEDIA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genotype
  • Phenotype. (n.d.). Retrieved from WIKIPEDIA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phenotype


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"Difference Between Genotype and Phenotype." Diffzy.com, 2022. Thu. 08 Dec. 2022. <https://www.diffzy.com/article/difference-between-genotype-and-phenotype-914>.

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