Recessive Trait: A Brief Overview

Recessive traits are genetic characteristics that require two copies of a gene, one from each parent, in order for the trait to be expressed. This means that if only one copy of the gene is present, the trait will not be expressed. Recessive traits are often hidden in a person’s phenotype, and can remain hidden until only one parent passes on the trait. In humans, recessive traits can cause a range of conditions, from mild to severe, such as albinism, sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, and Tay-Sachs disease (Bolton, 2020).

Recessive traits are different than dominant traits, as dominant traits only require one copy of the gene to be expressed (Bolton, 2020). While recessive traits are more likely to remain hidden, they can be passed down from generation to generation without being expressed (Bolton, 2020).

In order to determine if a trait is recessive, genetic testing can be used to analyze the DNA of an individual. If two copies of the gene are present, the individual is said to be a “carrier” of the trait, meaning they can pass it on to their offspring (Bolton, 2020). However, if two copies of the gene are not present, the individual will not express the trait or be able to pass it on to their offspring (Bolton, 2020).

Recessive traits are an important part of genetic research and understanding of how traits are passed down and expressed. Knowing which traits are recessive and which are dominant can help individuals determine their risk of passing on certain traits to their offspring, and can also aid in the diagnosis of certain genetic conditions (Bolton, 2020).


Bolton, E. (2020). Recessive Traits: A Brief Overview. Healthline.

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