What is the phenotype?

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

  1. What is the phenotype?

In genetics, the phenotype is referred to refer to the observable physical characteristics of an organism , the 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 . Or put another way, it is the physical and behavioral manifestation of what is contained in the DNA of a creature, although also influenced by the pressure of the environment in which it lives.

Phenotype with the word allusion is made to any observable trait of an organism, which covers development, their biochemical properties, physiology, 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 (“footprint”), from which it is inferred that it is the appearance of a hidden footprint, as is the case with the genetic code .

The phenotype of any individual is thus determined by the unique genetic configuration that their 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 manifest genotypic information, the pressure of the environment 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.

  1. Difference between genotype and phenotype

DNA - phenotype - genotype
Genotype is a unique configuration of genes in the 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, being able instead to appreciate its behavior and its physique with the naked eye. This is because the genotype is an abstract set of information contained in the genes , while the phenotype is an appreciable and changing physical state. In this way, while the phenotype can be altered by environmental action (due to accidents, for example), the genotype is instead invariable in the individual, since its genetic code is unique and unrepeatable and occurred during random genetic recombination. during the stages of its conception.

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

  1. Phenotype Examples

Some traditional examples of phenotype 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 the presence of the rh factor or not, and of the type A, B, AB or O, depending on its protein configuration.
  • Dimensions. That is, height, thickness, obesity , etc.

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