Genotype and Phenotype

Genotype refers to the genetic identity, i.e, the complete set of genes in the DNA responsible for a particular characteristic (trait) of an organism. In a narrower sense, the term can also be used to refer to the alleles, or variant forms of a gene, that are carried by an organism.

Phenotype refers to its visible characteristics, which are influenced both by its genotype and by the environmental factors.

The ability to vary phenotypic expression in response to environmental conditions is known as “phenotypic plasticity.” As an example of phenotypic plasticity, the coral pictured below develops columnar projections in areas without strong waves:

“Coral Garden” with Porites lobata at Neva Shoals, Lisianski Island, Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Attribution: not specified, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

Published on May 15, 2021