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Dominant Traits and Alleles

updated: July 1, 2022


Dominant, as related to genetics, refers to the relationship between an observed trait and the two inherited versions of a gene related to that trait. Individuals inherit two versions of each gene, known as alleles, from each parent. In the case of a dominant trait, only one copy of the dominant allele is required to express the trait. The effect of the other allele (the recessive allele) is masked by the dominant allele. Typically, an individual who carries two copies of a dominant allele exhibits the same trait as those who carry only one copy. This contrasts to a recessive trait, which requires that both alleles be present to express the trait.