Phenotypes, Genotypes and Kal-El

by Jim Sliney Jr 6/10/17

Here I am studying for an exam. Behind me, one of my cats, Kal-El, meows near the food bowls. I turn. There’s plenty of food. He just gets happy there.

Biodiversity refers to the incredibly vast and partially charted variety of life on our world. Not just mammals, but insects and Tyrannosaurus Rex and viruses and the people and the fungi. And cats.

Kal-El is a Norwegian Forest cat.

By that I mean he has many of the observable traits of a Siberian Forest Cat. When referring to those observable traits we refer to his “PHENOTYPE”. Another way to say that is that the Phenotype is the physical manifestations of his genetics.

kathleen-coffler-192581

thanks Unsplash.com – this is not Kal-El, but it is a Norwegian Forest Cat

I’m sure Kal-El is just part-Norwegian Forest Cat, since we adopted him as a feral rescue. It’s very unlikely therefore that he is a pure breed. It’s unlikely because of all the gin joints in all the world… my point is that to be “pure breed” he would have had to been the product of other pure Norwegian Forest Cats, and those cats too must have been pure bred, etc.

If his Phenotype is the physical manifestations of his genetics, then those genetics are referred to as his GENOTYPE – the DNA codes that make Kal-El who he is. His genotype is unique. It is unique because every part of his phenotype that can be different (length of fur, width of claw, eye color, the amount of fur between his toes, his predisposition to certain diseases, etc etc etc) are expressed in his unique genotype.

Cats have 20, 285 genes and each gene has ALLELES. Alleles represent the different ways that genes can express themselves. For instance, I got the allele for blue eyes versus brown (my parents both have brown). Blue is recessive while brown is dominant. But we’re getting into more complicated territory there. Suffice it to say Alleles are the eithers and ors of how genes will become part of the phenotype of the organism.

That’s enough for now. Let me know if you want any more of this biodiversity stuff.

JJSjr

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