What Are Dominant and Recessive Traits?


What Are Dominant and Recessive Traits?

By Alondra Jimenez  

The words dominant and recessive are terms used to describe inheritance patterns of certain characteristics. This is especially used in humans. Humans have two copies of each chromosome that come from their parents. Because of this, humans have two versions of genes and these diverse types of genes are known as alleles. These can either be dominant or recessive and are used to describe the inheritance patterns of certain characteristics. These terms can also be used to describe the probability of a trait being inherited by the offspring, for example, genetic disorders. If a person inherits a dominant trait, it will show up rather than the other phenotypes.

A dominant trait will only show its phenotype on the offspring if dominant alleles show more than recessive even though it only has one copy of the allele. This is called heterozygous. In different terms, if the alleles are different it is known as a hybrid. It is known as a hybrid because of the two different alleles; it is not purebred. When both alleles are there, one of them will cover up the other one. The one that “masks”, or the stronger one, is called dominant. An example of this can be eye colour. If the allele for having brown eyes is dominant over the blue eyes, then only one copy of this allele is needed for the person to have blue eyes. This leads the person to express that trait because this certain gene is more “dominant” than the other one.

Recessive alleles can only show its phenotype when it is paired or joined with another allele that is identical to themselves. In simpler terms, recessive alleles can only be visible if the person has two copies of this allele. Having two alleles to show a certain gene is known as homozygous. As mentioned, if both alleles are present, the dominant will hide the weaker the allele, or the recessive. For example, the allele for having blue eyes is recessive and for a person to express that trait, he/she must have two copies of the blue eye allele. As a result, this trait is not as common as it is dominant.

In conclusion, the meaning of dominant traits is an allele is “stronger” than the recessive allele because it will show its phenotype in the offspring. Heterozygous is when a gene has two distinct alleles of a gene. The definition of recessive is that it is an allele whose phenotype will not appear on the offspring due to it only having one allele. Homozygous is when the gene has an individual has two of the same alleles.


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