Genotype vs. Phenotype: Major Differences Between the Two


Genotype, in simplest terms, is the genetic constitution of an individual organism. In other words, the complete set of genetic materials of an individual organism is termed as its genotype.

The term can also be used to denote the alleles or variants of a gene carried by an organism. E.g. color of eyes, DNA, Height, etc.


Phenotype can be defined as a set of visible traits or observable physical properties of an organism. The phenotype of an individual is determined by its genotype, environmental factors, or an interaction between the two.

E.g. Weight, Hair color, appearance, etc.

illustration showing differences between genotype and phenotype

Differences Between Genotype and Phenotype

The above definition makes it clear that Genotype and Phenotype are two different concepts. To make your understanding more clear, here we are providing a whole bunch of differences between the two.

Genotype vs. Phenotype
Basis of Difference Genotype Phenotype
Definition A set of genetic materials or the genetic makeup of an individual is called its genotype. The visible physical traits of an individual are called its phenotype.
Duration The genes of an individual are created once and remain the same throughout the life of that individual. Genotype remains the same from birth to death. Phenotype or the physical appearance of an individual keeps on changing. Some physical traits like the color of eyes may remain the same but traits like height etc. change over time.
Depends on The genotype of an organism depends on the gene sequence the individual possesses. The phenotype of an individual depends on its genotype, epigenetics, and environmental factors.
Relation with each other The same genotype produces the same phenotype. This means the same genetic coding in two individuals will result in the same physical trait based on the gene. The same phenotype may or may not belong to the same genotype. Two people with the same weight will not necessarily have the same gene behind that weight.
Inheritance Genotype is passed from parents to offspring. It is inherited. Phenotype is not directly inherited. Physical traits depend on many factors including environmental factors.
Determination/ Observation The genotype of an individual can only be determined by scientific methods like a polymerase chain reaction. The phenotype of an organism is observed simply by looking at the individual. It does not require any scientific methodology.
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