Difference between Genotype and Phenotype
By Claire Miles - February 23, 2023

Genotype and phenotype are used to define an organism’s characteristics or traits. However, there are distinctions between the two.

Chart Summary
  1. It is the genetic constitution of an organism.
It refers to physically observable traits of an organism
  1. It is dependent on the parentage of the organism.
It is dependent on the genotype of the organism, and its interaction with the environment
  1. Every characteristic that is in the genotype can be passed on to the next generation
It isn’t very likely for all phenotypes to be heritable
  1. It remains the same throughout the life of the organism
It is continually affected by environmental interactions throughout the organism’s life
  1. Requires complex genotyping to be observed
Usually observed with just a simple look
  1. Some examples are eye color
Some examples are height, size of beak, wing length, etc.
Genetic Research, DNA profile reflected in a test tube containing a sample

Getty images/ Westend61/ Westend61


The term “genotype” refers to an organism’s genetic makeup; in other words, it describes an organism’s entire set of genes. In a narrower sense, the term can refer to the alleles, or variant forms of a gene, that an organism carries.
The phenotype of an organism describes the physical or physiological characteristics and is the result of genotype expression.

The genotype, however, is not the only factor that influences an individual’s phenotype. Various environmental factors also play a role in controlling gene expression to determine an organism’s distinct phenotype.

Genotype vs. Phenotype

Inspecting the phenotype of an organism is very straightforward: one has to observe the organism’s external features and characteristics and draw conclusions about them. On the other hand, watching the genotype is a little more complicated.

Genotyping is analyzing differences in an individual’s genotype using biological assays. Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS), Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR), DNA Microarray, Allele-specific Oligonucleotide (ASO) Probes, and DNA Hybridization are examples of genotyping techniques.