Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Alternatives to 'genotype' and 'phenotype'

I just posted the following tweet, but realized that it needed a bit more elaboration.

The meanings I want to capture are the following:

'Genotype':  the genetic differences between different people (or other organisms)

'Phenotype':  the differences in traits/characteristics/properties between different people (or other organisms)

This is for a new blurb for Useful Genetics.  Part 1 of Useful Genetics teaches how genotypes differ and how they cause phenotypic differences.  Part 2 teaches how genotypic and phenotypic differences are inherited.

The terms need to stand alone - I'm not looking for analogies to incorporate into explanations of what 'genotype' and 'phenotype mean'.

For 'genotype' I could maybe say 'DNA differences' or 'gene differences', but I can't come up with any way to capture the real meaning of 'phenotype' in one or a few non-technical words.  It needs to not exclude any of the ways that phenotypes differ (appearance/metabolism/behaviour/disease risk etc).

Ideally the words would apply comfortably to both people and other organisms, but it's most important that they apply to people.