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Understanding Genotype vs Phenotype

As a new grower, plant genetics aren’t usually on the top of your to-do list when first starting out.

Professional growers rely on a plant’s specific genetic makeup to consistently provide them with the same identical crop with little to no variation.

A plants genotype refers to the genetic makeup of a cell. For each individual trait, a plant cell contains instructions on two alleles, which are alternative forms of the gene obtained from the mother and the father. An individual’s genotype refers to the combination of these two alleles, and can be either homozygous (the alleles are the same) or heterozygous (the alleles are different). Genotype functions as a set of instructions for a plants growth and development. The word ‘genotype’ is usually used when talking about the genetics of a particular trait (like leaf color).

A plants phenotype refers to a physical trait that can be observed, such as smell, taste, color, height, production. The phenotype depends upon the genotype but can also be influenced by environmental factors such as lighting, temperature, pH etc.

How Genotype Affects Phenotype

The term ‘genotype’ is usually used to refer to specific alleles. Alleles are alternative forms of the same gene that occupy the same location on a chromosome. At any given locus, there are 2 alleles (1 on each chromosome in the pair) – you get 1 allele from your mother and 1 from your father. The 2 alleles might be the same or they might be different. Different alleles of a gene generally serve the same function (for example, they code for a protein that affects plant height) but may produce different phenotypes (for example, yellow leaves or green leaves) depending on which set of 2 alleles the plant has.

How Environmental Factors Affect Phenotype

Plant’s genes carry the instructions for it’s growth and development. However, plant phenotype is influenced during embryonic development and throughout it’s life by environmental factors. Environmental factors are many and varied such as lighting, temperature, humidity, pH etc.