Dominant vs Recessive Allele: Difference and Comparison

Living organisms have a unique trait called genes responsible for the heredity transmission of traits between parents and offspring. A genre can be called the basic functioning unit of heredity.

Key Takeaways

  1. Dominant alleles express their traits even when paired with a different one; recessive alleles only express their traits when paired with an identical one.
  2. Dominant alleles can mask the presence of recessive alleles in an organism’s phenotype; recessive alleles remain hidden unless two copies are present.
  3. Inherited traits are determined by the combination of dominant and recessive alleles from each parent, following Mendelian inheritance patterns.

Dominant vs Recessive Allele

The difference between Dominant Allele and a Recessive Allele is that a dominant allele can express itself even if one copy of the gene is present. In contrast, a recessive allele must be present in pairs in ogre to be defined.

Dominant vs Recessive Allele 1

Both genes and alleles are responsible for inheritance—an allele in a slightly varied form of a gene. A gene is inherited in pairs, one from each parent.

Alleles sometime cause observable changes in the genetic makeup of an organism. Such changes are called Phenotypic changes.


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Genetic expression is dependent on such alleles. They may be more than two alleles for a given gene.


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonDominant AlleleRecessive Allele
DefinitionAlleles can express themselves by overriding other alleles.Alles that cannot override other alleles are recessive alleles
ActionThey can mask the effect of other genes even in the absence of different similar alleles.They cannot express themselves if not present in pairs.
RepresentationRepresented by upper caseRepresented by lowercase.
InheritancePhenotypic expression is likely to be seen.The probability of phenotypic expression is always lesser.
ExampleRed flowers in pea plantsWhite flowers in pea plants


What is Dominant Allele?

A dominant allele is an allele that can express itself phenotypically, despite the presence of other alleles. The characteristic feature of a dominant allele is that it can mask the effect of other genes during inheritance and expression.

A deeper understanding of allele expression is based on the role of alleles and genes in actively coding structural proteins. A single copy of such an allele can supply enough enzymes to cells.

Dominance is a relative trait for alleles. A dominant allele might be recessive in the presence of another dominant allele.

  1. Complete Dominance- When a dominant allele completely hides the effect of a recessive allele. A heterozygous gene pair with a dominant allele would have the same phenotypic expression as the homozygous pair.
  2. Codominance- In the case of co-dominance, there is no absolute dominance; in a sense, both alleles are expressed in different regions of the organism. The traits can be separated.
  3. Incomplete Dominance- Incomplete dominance happens when both alleles release different enzymes; however, none dominate the other in the phenotypic expression.
dominant allele

What is Recessive Allele?

 A recessive allele cannot express itself phenoin the presence of a dominant allele. This means that even if a recessive gene is present, the phenotype would not be affected in the case of a heterozygous gene pair.

A recessive allele must always be in pairs in a homozygous genotype for genetic expression. The organism with a heterozygous genotype becomes a carrier of the recessive trait.

The effect of a recessive allele remains masked because the recessive allele produces non-functional proteins, unlike the dominant allele, which mainly produces functional proteins. Since enzymes can be covert their substrate, only one active gene seldom affects the system.

It is important to note that, dominant alleles are not necessarily superior to the recessive allele in evolution. A dominant allele might be rejected during the process of natural selection.

recessive allele

Main Differences Between Dominant and Recessive Allele

  1. Dominant alleles can override the effect of other alleles and maintain phenotypic expression. In contrast, recessive alleles are the ones that are unable to express themselves in the presence of other genes.
  2. Dominant genes can mask the effect of other alleles, while recessive alleles cannot hide the effect of other genetic alleles.
  3. Dominant alleles are represented through upper case alphabets, while recessive alleles are repressed.
  4. Ented by recessive alleles. A dominant allele can express itself in homozygous and heterozygous pairs, while a recessive allele expresses itself only in homozygous paring conditions.
  5. A dominant allele is likely to be inherited, while a recessive allele is less likely to express, even if it gets inherited.
  6. A dominant allele encodes functional proteins, while a recessive allele encodes non-functional proteins.
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