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.

Suggestions?



11 comments:

VJ said...

Why not simply "DNA differences" and "trait differences"? Should be accessible to most people.

PS Long time reader/fan, first time commenter :)

Hotshot said...

I have to giggle, but my students differentiate them as "letters" (AA, Aa, aa) versus "appearances."

Rosie Redfield said...

To me, 'trait' is somewhat of a jargon term, not one I would use outside of genetics. But maybe I'm wrong and most people are comfortable with it as a general usage.

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chipr said...

This is interesting, and I'm wanting to learn more about both mainly for personal reasons. As far as using the term "trait", I believe most non-technical or non genetics users will know what trait means. Ultimately, there will still need to be a glossary but your proposed terms will be easier to memorize and associate, the meaning, to the term; as opposed to the term phenotype for instance.

I like characteristic differences a bit better than trait differences.

Found while searching for more information about your Useful Genetics course (through edX).

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