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Relation between genotype and phenotype illustrated.

The genotype is the overall genetic makeup of an individual or group of organisms, it constitutes a combination of alleles situated on corresponding chromosomes. In other words, genotype is the specific set of the alleles forming the genome of an individual.[1] The end result of development for an organism depends both on the genotype of an organism and on the environments in which it develops. Observing the phenotype not always tell us very much about the genotype.[2] When it is put against different environments the genotype produces phenotypes usually at the transcription or proteome phase. It is thus responsible for the limits and potential of the individual. Each genotype is unique except in the rare case of twins being born which are from the same fertilized egg.

At conception the organism begins to develop its inherited traits through sexual reproduction. When born it has a genome that constitutes the organism and is fully developed. As the environment begins to establish itself as the cause of survival, phenotype observations are gleaned. To better understand such a pattern generation after generation there are three things in common for all multi-cellular organisms.

Generation 1 Generation 2 Generation 3
heredity passed down heredity passed down heredity passed down
genotype development genotype development genotype development
phenotype observations phenotype observations phenotype observations


  1. Alberts, Bruce; Johnson, Alexander; Lewis, Julian; Raff, Martin; Roberts, Keith; Walters, Peter (2008). Molecular Biology of the Cell (5th ed.). New York and London: Garland Science. p. 554. ISBN 0-8153-4105-9. 
  2. Dale, Jeremy W.; Park, Simon F (2004). Molecular Genetics of Bacteria (4th ed.). West Sussex, England: John Wiley & Sons. p. 45. ISBN 0-470-85084-1. 

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