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What is the difference between homozygote and heterozygote?

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Quick Answer

A homozygote is an individual organism with two copies of the same allele that determines a specific trait, while a heterozygote has a copy of two different alleles for the same trait. Alleles are alternative forms of genes that determine the same trait.

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Organisms inherit one allele from each trait from both of their parents. Typically, the terms heterozygote and homozygote are used when the traits in question are Mendelian; that is, they are determined by a single gene. Of the alleles for that gene, one is typically fully dominant over the other. A dominant allele in Mendelian genetics is always expressed over a recessive one. A heterozygote generally has one copy of both the recessive and dominant alleles for a trait, resulting in an organism that expresses the dominant trait yet can pass the recessive trait onto its offspring, according to About.com.

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