Last Updated: February 25, 2019

Definition - What does Phenotype mean?

In genetics, the physical expression of a genotype is called a phenotype. In other words, a phenotype is the observation of the biochemical and physical characteristics of an organism, determined by the interactions of its genetic makeup and environment.

Variations of phenotypes are an important and observable part of the evolutionary process. In plants, animals, and humans, the phenotype is what you see; it is the visible, observable expression of the results of genes (genotypes), combined with the environmental influence on an organism’s appearance or behavior.

MaximumYield explains Phenotype

In contrast to a genotype, which is an individual's genetic makeup, a phenotype is the observation of how genetic and environmental factors influence each other to determine an organism's appearance and behavior.

In plant genetics, a plant family's genetics are passed on through DNA. The genetic code is invisible. The physical traits of those genetics combine with environmental conditions, and lead to a full-grown plant with a visible phenotype, as determined by both its genes, and the effects its environment had on those genes.

In plants, everything from their color, shape, size, smell, and medicinal compound production (resin and trichomes, for example) are affected by the plant's environment. Cultivators often do everything possible to bring out a plant's best phenotype possible by providing it with optimal growing conditions.

In an animal kingdom example, an example of phenotype observation is the migration of geese and how they utilize both genetic traits and environmental factors to determine exactly when and where to migrate.

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