What Is an Intermediate Phenotype?

An intermediate phenotype describes an organism that displays a blend of the phenotypic traits that its parents expressed. If a red flower cross-pollinates a white flower, and the resulting offspring are pink, the offspring described as an intermediate phenotype. Intermediate phenotypes occur when the traits under scrutiny are neither dominant or recessive.

Intermediate phenotypes are quite common throughout the living world. Most people express a phenotype that is intermediate from their parents in many ways. However, organisms that possess intermediate phenotypes may also display traits that are dominant or recessive. For example, two human children may simultaneously exhibit dominant or recessive traits and those of an intermediate phenotype. The eye color of the children is largely the result of dominant and recessive genes. By contrast, the children’s height, weight, hair color, intelligence and many other traits are generally examples of intermediate phenotypes.

An organism carries the genetic instructions for its construction in the DNA of its cells. This genetic code is called the organism’s genotype. This code instructs the organism’s cells to build a collection of proteins. Additionally, the genetic code tells the organism’s body how to arrange the proteins. The physical structure that results from the organism’s genotype is called its phenotype.