Skip to main content Skip to Search Box

Definition: allele (allelomorph) from Dictionary of DNA and Genome Technology

Any one of two or more different versions of a particular gene; the product or function of a given allele may exhibit qualitative and/or quantitative difference(s) from the product or function of other alleles of that gene.

In a diploid cell or organism, if an allelic pair (i.e. the two alleles of a given gene) consists of two identical alleles then the cell/organism is said to be homozygous for that particular gene; if different, the cell/organism is said to be heterozygous for the gene.

(See also allele-specific gene expression.)

Summary Article: allele
from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

One of two or more alternative forms of a gene at a given position (locus) on a chromosome, caused by a difference in the sequence of DNA. This is best explained with examples. A gene which controls eye colour in humans may have two alternative forms – an allele that can produce blue eyes, and an allele that produces brown eyes. In a plant that occurs in tall and short forms, there may be an allele that tends to produce tall plants and an alternative allele that produces short plants. The gene for tallness and the gene for blue eyes do not represent a pair of alleles – they are not alternatives.

The individual genes that form a pair of alleles are located at exactly the same point along a chromosome. Organisms with two sets of chromosomes (diploids), such as animals and plants, have chromosomes that are found as matching pairs in the nucleus of each cell. This means that there will always be two genes for a characteristic in a cell. If the same allele is present twice, the organism is said to be homozygous for this characteristic. If, however, one chromosome contains one allele and the other chromosome a contrasting allele, the organism is said to be heterozygous.

In a heterozygous organism the appearance of the organism (phenotype) may be determined by one allele and not the other. The allele that determines the phenotype is said to be dominantly expressed; it shows dominance over other alleles. The expression of the other allele is described as being recessive.


Effect of chromosomes and genes on health

Chromosomes and genes

© RM, 2018. All rights reserved.

Related Articles

Full text Article Allele
Encyclopedia of Global Health

An allele or allelomorph is one of the variant forms of a gene at a particular locus, or location, on a chromosome. Different alleles produce...

Full text Article allele
The Macmillan Encyclopedia

Any one of the various alternative forms of a gene that can occur at the same site on a chromosome . In Drosophila fruit flies, for...

Full text Article allele
Philip's Encyclopedia

One of two or more alternative forms of a particular gene . Different alleles may give rise to different forms of the characteristic for which...

See more from Credo