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Title: Phene  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Phenotypic trait, Genetics
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


A phene is an individual genetically determined characteristic or organism, such as eye colour, height, behavior, tooth shape or any other observable characteristic.


  • Phene - phenotype - phenome distinction 1
  • Phene - gene distinction 2
  • Origin 3
  • Usages 4
  • See also 5
  • References 6

Phene - phenotype - phenome distinction

The term 'phene' was evidently coined as an obvious parallel construct to 'gene'. Phene is to Phenotype as Gene is to Genotype, and Similarly Phene is to Phenome as Gene is to Genome. More specifically, a Phene is an abstract concept describing a particular characteristic which can be possessed by an organism. Whereas Phenotype refers to a collection of Phenes possessed by a particular organism, and Phenome refers to the entire set of Phenes that exist within an organism or species.

Genome wide association studies use "phenes" or "traits" (symptoms) to distinguish groups in the human population. These groups are then employed to identify associations with genetic alleles that are more common in the symptomatic group than in the asymptomatic control group. Allen et al. report that with respect to Schizophrenia "Research in molecular genetics has focused on detecting multiple genes of small effect"[1] This indicates the importance of discovering individual traits or "phenes" that are governed by single genes. Schizophrenia or bipolar disorder may be described as a phenotype but how many individual traits or "phenes" contribute to these phenotypes? Very large genome wide association studies have not found many significant gene linkages. On the contrary the results of these studies implicate a large number of gene alleles that have a very small effect (phene).[2]

It is important to note that the word [3] it is not helpful in the collective search for specific traits that could be a consequence of a single gene or gene-environmental interaction. Phene has emerged as a candidate building block for the phenome.

Phene - gene distinction

polypeptides", they are not directly accessible to natural selection; the associated phenes are. Note that some, e.g. Richard Dawkins, have used a wider definition of "gene" than the one used in genetics on occasion, extending it to any DNA sequence with a function.

Due to the distinct chemical and physical properties of the evolution, natural selection affects the primary sequence directly in this case, with or without it being expressed.

Consider, for example, a mutation that makes a zygote abort development as a young embryo. This mutation, obviously, will not spread, as it is quickly fatal. It is not the mutated nucleotide that is selected against, but the fact that due to this mutation, the phene (a key enzyme or developmental factor for example) does not get expressed.

Compare a (fictional) kind of mutation that breaks the DNA strand in a crucial position and defies all attempts to repair it, leading to cell death. Here, the mutated and unmutated DNA sequences would be phenes themselves; it is the changed primary sequence itself which by failing would cause death, not the corresponding polypeptide.

See also Dawkin's concept of extended phenotype.


The term has been widely adopted by the academic community and appears in scientific literature. A quick keyword search of titles and abstracts containing "phene" at PubMed returns many articles.[4] It is a valuable concept in the genomic era where "phenes" or "traits" (symptoms) are used to distinguish groups with genetic disorders.


"Phene" is used as to refer to relevant phenotypic traits in the OMIA (Online Mendelian Inheritance in Animals) database. One of the objectives of the OMIA is to match genotypes to phenotypes. Lenffer et al. (2006) describe the OMIA as a "comparative biology resource" "(The) OMIA is a comprehensive resource of phenotypic information on heritable animal traits and genes in a strongly comparative context, relating traits to genes where possible. OMIA is modelled on and is complementary to Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man (OMIM)."[5] The term "phene" is equated with "trait".

See also


  1. ^ Allan, Charlotte L.; Cardno, AG; McGuffin, P (2008). "Schizophrenia: From Genes to Phenes to Disease". Current Psychiatry Reports 10 (4): 339–343.  
  2. ^ Sklar, P; Smoller, JW; Fan, J; Ferreira, MA; Perlis, RH; Chambert, K; Nimgaonkar, VL; McQueen, MB; et al. (published online 4 March 2008). "Whole-genome association study of bipolar disorder". Molecular Psychiatry 13 (6): 558–569.  
  3. ^ American Psychological Association (APA): phenotype. (n.d.). The American Heritage Stedman's Medical Dictionary. Retrieved April 15, 2009, from website:
  4. ^
    • Komosinski, M; Ulatowski, S (2004). "Genetic mappings in artificial genomes". Theory in biosciences = Theorie in den Biowissenschaften 123 (2): 125–37.  
    • Obukhova, NIu (2007). "Polymorphism and phene geography of the blue rock pigeon in Europe". Genetika 43 (5): 609–19.  
    • Carpenter, AT (2003). "Normal synaptonemal complex and abnormal recombination nodules in two alleles of the Drosophila meiotic mutant mei-W68". Genetics 163 (4): 1337–56.  
    • Balanovskaia, EV; Nurbaev, SD; Rychkov, IuG (1994). "Computer technology of the genogeographic study of the gene pool. I. Statistical information from the genogeographic map". Genetika 30 (7): 951–65.  
    • Gerlai, R; Csányi, V (1990). "Genotype-environment interaction and the correlation structure of behavioral elements in paradise fish (Macropodus opercularis)". Physiology & behavior 47 (2): 343–56.  
    • Procunier, JD; Dunn, RJ (1978). "Genetic and molecular organization of the 5S locus and mutants in D. Melanogaster". Cell 15 (3): 1087–93.  
    • Riedl, R (1977). "A systems-analytical approach to macro-evolutionary phenomena". The Quarterly review of biology 52 (4): 351–70.  
    • Wright, TR; Bewley, GC; Sherald, AF (1976). "The genetics of dopa decarboxylase in Drosophila melanogaster. II. Isolation and characterization of dopa-decarboxylase-deficient mutants and their relationship to the alpha-methyl-dopa-hypersensitive mutants". Genetics 84 (2): 287–310.  
    • Sinclair, DA; Suzuki, DT; Grigliatti, TA (1981). "Genetic and developmental analysis of a temperature-sensitive minute mutation of Drosophila melanogaster". Genetics 97 (3-4): 581–606.  
  5. ^ Lenffer, Johann; Nicholas, Frank W.; Castle, K; Rao, A; Gregory, S; Poidinger, M; Mailman, MD; Ranganathan, S (Jan 1, 2006). "OMIA (Online Mendelian Inheritance in Animals): an enhanced platform and integration into the Entrez search interface at NCBIOMIA (Online Mendelian Inheritance in Animals): an enhanced platform and integration into the Entrez search interface at NCBI". Nucleic Acids Res. 34 (Database issue): D599–D601.  
  • Porter, Ian H (June 1973). "From gene to phene.". J Invest Dermatol. 60 (6): 360–368.  
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