Phenotype – Concept, examples and genotype

We explain what the phenotype is and what are its differences with the genotype. Also, some phenotype examples.

Phenotype - tuca
The phenotype is determined by the unique genetic makeup that DNA contains.

What is the phenotype?

In genetics, phenotype is used to refer to the observable physical characteristics of an organism, product of the expression or manifestation of the genetic information contained in the genotype, in accordance with the conditions of the determined environment in which the organism lives. In other words, it is the physical and behavioral manifestation of what is contained in the DNA of a creature, although it is also influenced by the pressure of the environment in which it lives.

The word phenotype refers to any observable trait of an organism, which encompasses their development, their biochemical properties, their physiology, their behavior, etc.. For example, the color of a bird’s feathers is part of its phenotype. This word comes from the Greek, and is the result of the union of phainein (“Appear”) and typhos (“Trace”), from which it is inferred that it is the appearance of a hidden trace, as is the case of the genetic code.

The phenotype of any individual is thus determined by the unique genetic makeup your DNA contains, so that different genotypes produce different phenotypes. That is the reason why two children of the same mother and the same father can be so physically different from each other.

However, regardless of the genotypic information manifested, environmental pressure will also shape the phenotype of an organism, since it can suffer accidents, changes or adaptations that a genetically similar individual but in another environment would not suffer.

So that the following formula is fulfilled:

Phenotype = Genotype + Environment.

Difference between genotype and phenotype

DNA - phenotype - genotype
Genotype is a unique configuration of genes in DNA within cells.

The main difference between genotype and phenotype has to do with visibility, since it is quite difficult to observe and decode the genes of an organism, while being able to appreciate its behavior and physique with the naked eye. This is because genotype is an abstract set of information contained in genes, while the phenotype is an appreciable and changing physical state. In this way, while the phenotype can be altered by the action of the environment (due to accidents, for example), the genotype is invariable in the individual, since its genetic code is unique and unrepeatable and was produced during random genetic recombination. during the stages of its conception.

Thus, the genotype is a unique configuration of genes in the DNA within cells, while the phenotype is the way in which this information is expressed, according to the environmental conditions in which the individual lives.

Examples of phenotype

Some traditional phenotype examples have to do with:

  • Pigmentation. For example, the color of the eyes, hair or skin. In the case of animals, the fur or plumage also has to do with this.
  • The blood group. With presence of rh factor or not, and of type A, B, AB or O, depending on its protein configuration.
  • Dimensions. That is, height, thickness, obesity, etc.