Difference Between Dominant and Recessive Allele (With Table)

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. The number of genes and their role can vary widely across the diverse spectrum of species.

Dominant vs Recessive Allele

The main 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.

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. When the copy of one gene differs slightly from another, it becomes an allele.

Alleles sometime cause observable changes in the genetic make-up of an organism. Such changes are called Phenotypic changes. Such changes normally happen due in the presence of dominant and recessive alleles. A dominant allele is the one that expresses itself by overriding the other allele. A recessive allele would be the one that that gets overridden in the presence of a dominant allele.

Genetic expression is dependent on such alleles. They may be more than two alleles for a given gene. Usually, only two are present at a given time, however, occasionally they might act in a collective fashion.


Comparison Table Between Dominant and Recessive Allele (in Tabular Form)

Parameter of Comparison

Dominant Allele

Recessive Allele


Alleles can express themselves by overriding other alleles.

Alles that cannot override other alleles are recessive alleles


They can mask the effect of other genes even in the absence of other similar alleles.

They cannot express themselves if not present in pairs.


Represented by upper case

Represented by lower case.


Phenotypic expression is likely to be seen.

Probability of phenotypic expression is always lesser.


Red flowers in pea plants

White 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. Some traits depend on the presence of certain pigments or enzymes while others rely on the lack of such pigments. Either way, the resultant prototype is completely different from the other.

Dominance is a relative trait for alleles. A dominant allele might be recessive in the presence of another dominant allele. A dominant allele can hence express itself in both heterozygous and homozygous situations. Dominance can be of three types;

  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.

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. If two carrier organisms mate, there is a 25 per cent probability that the offspring might have a recessive phenotypic expression.

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. The allele controls the production of protein, the all proteins together control the organism which further interacts with the environment. The absence of a functioning enzyme can be beneficial to the organism some times.

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.



The genetic makeup of an organism depends on the pair of alleles that is inherited from each parent. Alleles are varied types of genes. However, certain alleles test to mask the effect of another allele on the organism, such alleles are called Dominant alleles. While the alleles that fail to express themselves in the presence of other alleles become the recessive allele. The concept of dominance is relative, that is the characteristic ‘dominance’ is always in relation to a supposedly ‘recessive’ allele.


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