We explain what the genotype is and what is its difference with the phenotype. Also, why it is important, what is the human genome and examples.
What is the genotype?
By genotype we refer to the set of genetic information stored in the DNA of a particular organism , whose totality in terms of species composes the genome. Or put another way: each living being has a specific genotype, which is the total genetic information stored in its cells ; but the genotype of the whole species constitutes the human genome.
In the information contained in the genotype are all the characteristics that constitute the individual , from its internal functioning, its physical appearance and its possible congenital diseases. The physical manifestation of such information, also influenced by the environment, is what is considered the phenotype. That is:
Genotype + Environment = Phenotype.
The study of genes and inheritance has allowed human beings to understand much better than ever the ways in which biological information is transmitted from one generation to the next, which occurs by replicating the genes contained in the genotype.
Difference between genotype and phenotype
The difference between genotype and phenotype is the difference between the mold and the result . The genotype operates as a mold or a pattern, that is, as a set of genetic information that determines each fundamental aspect of the constitution and functioning of the body of a living being.
On the other hand, the phenotype is the result of the materialization or expression of said mold, which can occur more or less loyal to the guidelines , depending on the environment in which the individual develops.
Thus, the genotype allows the transmission of genetic information, even when said information is not expressed or materialized in the phenotype of the individual. That is why he could instead manifest himself in a descendant of his, since he has received genetic information in inheritance .
Importance of the genotype
The genotype is the set of genetic information, which contains the successes and evolutionary failures of a species , something fundamental for the coming generations that will perpetuate it. In that sense, it is the greatest biological treasure of each species of living being, and the damages that it can suffer, by sources such as ionizing radiation, certain diseases or some chemical substances, put at risk the enduring of this information.
The genome of the human species has been studied during the second half of the twentieth century , especially after the inauguration in 1990 of the Human Genome Project, aimed at determining the exact sequence of the chemical bases that integrate the DNA of our species, and then identify and map them, in order to “translate” that genetic information and know which segments determine which phenotypes in the genome of each individual of the species. This task was completed in July 2016, although the exact function of each segment is not yet known, but there is a very good map of its entirety and its main content areas.
Thanks to this, many congenital diseases can be better understood and attacked in contemporary medicine, and the doors have been opened to gene therapy, which is giving great results in the eradication of diseases hitherto considered incurable.
It is difficult to properly give examples of a genotype, but we can give examples of information contained in the genotype of a species, such as:
- Predispositions to suffer certain diseases or suffer from diseases arising from a specific condition in the metabolism or any other body system.
- Physical traits identifiable to the naked eye, such as hair and eye color, skin tone, facial features or hair density.
- Body proportions, such as height, propensity to obesity , etc.
- Certain behavioral tendencies that are linked in some way with the brain, nerve transmission or assimilation of substances ingested through food.