We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.
Biology

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

What is a Gene Interaction?

Mary McMahon
By
Updated: May 21, 2024

A gene interaction is an interplay between multiple genes that has an impact on the expression of an organism's phenotype. While the expression of physical traits is often described as the result of inheriting two genes, one at each allele from each parent, it is actually much more complicated. Groups of genes interact with each other, explaining why phenotypes are so variable between individual members of a species. Understanding gene interactions is an important aspect of understanding inheritance, particularly inheritance of deleterious traits.

Gene interactions can result in the alteration or suppression of a phenotype. This can occur when an organism inherits two different dominant genes, for example, resulting in incomplete dominance. This is commonly seen in flowers, where breeding two flowers that pass down dominant genes can result in a flower of an unusual color caused by incomplete dominance. If red and white are dominant, for example, the offspring might be pinkish or striped in color as the result of a gene interaction.

Sometimes, genetic traits are entirely suppressed. People with albinism may carry genes for traits that are not expressed in their phenotypes because the albinism acts to turn those genes off. This is also seen in coloration patterns in animals such as tortoiseshell cats, where the unusual hair color is the result of selective gene interactions, with genes being turned off at some locations and turned on in others.

The fruit fly is famously extensively studied in genetics and much of the understanding of how gene interactions works comes from working with the fruit fly in lab environments. In organisms like humans, where genetic experimentation is viewed as unethical, geneticists are forced to rely on data from the existing population to learn about dominant and recessive traits and to see how groups of genetic traits can interact. A gene interaction is the result of inheriting genes that conflict in some way, making it impossible for all of them to express as coded, or of inheriting a set of interrelated genes that interact with each other to express a phenotype.

Sometimes a gene interaction limits production of certain proteins, often quite early in fetal development. In other instances, it can interfere with the coding of proteins to result in a garbled expression of a physical trait. Hybrids often show a variety of interesting results of gene interactions. In some cases, the interactions are beneficial and may develop into their own genetic traits, while in others, the gene interaction may create a disadvantage and those traits will eventually die out.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a All The Science researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By Grivusangel — On Jan 21, 2014

I'm an English major, not a scientist, but genetics has always fascinated me. It's always interesting to compare family members to see who looks like whom, and what traits have been carried over through the generations.

My husband had never seen a photo of his great-grandfather until very recently. Their resemblance was striking. He always wondered whom in the family he resembled, since he doesn't look a lot like either of his parents. However, when he saw the picture of his great-grandfather, his question was answered.

It is my hope that further genetic studies and gene therapy can help eradicate diseases like cancer and Alzheimer’s.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

Learn more
Share
All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

All The Science, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.