Difference Between Dominant and Recessive Allele

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


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Dominant vs Recessive Allele

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

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 make-up of an organism. Such changes are called Phenotypic changes.

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 other similar alleles.They cannot express themselves if not present in pairs.
RepresentationRepresented by upper caseRepresented by lower case.
InheritancePhenotypic expression is likely to be seen.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 has the ability to express itself phenotypically, despite the presence of other alleles. The characteristic feature of a dominant allele is that it has the ability to 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 exact same phenotypic expression as the homozygous pair.
  2. Codominance- In case of co-dominance, there is no absolute dominance, in the sense, both alleles are expressed, in different regions of the organism. The traits can be separated.
  3. Incomplete Dominance- Incomplete dominance happens when both the alleles released different enzymes, however, none of the alleles dominate each other in the phenotypic expression.
dominant allele

What is Recessive Allele?

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

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

The reason why the effect of a recessive allele normally remains masked is because the recessive allele usually produces non-functional proteins, unlike the dominant allele that mostly produce functional proteins. Since enzymes have the ability to covert their substrate, the presence of only one functional gene seldom affects the system.

It is important to note that, dominant alleles are not necessarily superior to the recessive allele in terms of 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 have the ability to override the effect of other alleles and maintain phenotypic expression, while recessive alleles are the ones that are unable to express themselves in the presence of other genes.
  2. Dominant genes have the ability to mask the effect of other alleles, while recessive alleles cannot mask the effect of other genetic alleles.
  3. The representation of dominant alleles is through upper case alphabets while recessive alleles are repres
  4. ented by recessive alleles.A dominant allele can express itself in both homozygous and heterozygous pair, while a recessive allege 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 usually encodes functional proteins while a recessive allele encoded non-functional protein.


  1. https://abt.ucpress.edu/content/ucpabt/53/2/94.full.pdf
  2. https://www.nature.com/articles/ng842z
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