What is the difference between genotype and phenotype?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Genotype refers to the actual genes that an organism has in its DNA.  It includes all of the possible traits, or characteristics, that the organism is theoretically capable of having based on its genetic sequences.  Phenotype refers to the traits that are actually present in the organism.  Things like skin, hair, and eye color are all part of the phenotype.  Although phenotypical characteristics are based on underlying genotype, environmental factors can also play a role here.  For example, genotype will determine when a tooth might appear, but outside factors will strongly influence how strong the tooth is or how long it might last.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial