Ask Difference

Genetics vs. Epigenetics — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman — Updated on September 21, 2023
Genetics studies genes and their roles in inheritance, while Epigenetics examines external modifications to DNA affecting gene expression without changing the DNA sequence.
Genetics vs. Epigenetics — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Genetics and Epigenetics


Key Differences

Genetics and Epigenetics both pertain to the realm of biology, specifically to the understanding of heredity and gene function. Genetics primarily focuses on the study of genes, how they are inherited from one generation to the next, and their role in biological traits. On the other hand, Epigenetics delves into the study of changes in organisms due to modifications of gene expression, rather than alteration of the genetic code itself.
Genetics revolves around the concept that our DNA sequence, or the order of nucleotides in our genes, determines our biological inheritance. This study encompasses the mechanics of heredity, how traits are passed down, and how genes function in an organism. Conversely, Epigenetics investigates the factors that switch genes on or off. These are molecular modifications that do not tamper with the DNA sequence, but they do affect how genes are expressed.
In the context of Genetics, if we envision the human genome as an encyclopedia, then each gene can be seen as a word in this vast volume. These "words" or genes are the essential units of heredity. Epigenetics, on the other hand, can be compared to the annotations or highlights that don't alter the words in the encyclopedia but do influence which words garner attention and which do not.
To draw a distinction between the two, one might say that while Genetics gives us the blueprint—the DNA sequence—that makes up an organism, Epigenetics is concerned with how external factors can influence the ways in which this blueprint is interpreted and acted upon.

Comparison Chart


Study of genes and their role in heredity.
Study of changes in organisms caused by modification of gene expression.


DNA sequence and gene function.
Gene expression regulation without altering DNA sequence.


Inheritance of genes.
Modifications like methylation and acetylation.


Blueprint of an organism.
Interpretation and expression of the blueprint.


Static, as DNA sequence remains unchanged.
Dynamic, as it can change based on environmental factors.

Compare with Definitions


Examination of how specific traits or conditions are passed down through generations.
Genetics research led to the identification of the gene responsible for cystic fibrosis.


The study of changes in gene activity not caused by alterations in DNA sequences.
Epigenetics explores how lifestyle choices can influence gene expression in offspring.


The biological study of genes, DNA, and the molecular mechanisms behind inheritance.
Genetics has illuminated the intricate processes of cell replication and division.


The study of molecular mechanisms altering gene activity without DNA sequence change.
Epigenetics research shows how environmental factors can impact our genetic makeup.


The science studying inheritance and gene variation in organisms.
Through Genetics, scientists discovered the genes linked to certain diseases.


Investigation of hereditary changes in gene function without changes in DNA sequence.
Through Epigenetics, we've learned trauma can affect the genetic activity of future generations.


Investigation into the patterns of inheritance of specific traits.
Genetics has been instrumental in the development of personalized medicine.


The study of biological mechanisms that switch genes on and off.
Epigenetics has deepened our understanding of how diet can influence gene expression.


The study of heredity and the variation of inherited characteristics.
Genetics helps us understand how traits are passed from parents to offspring.


Examination of gene expression changes not based on underlying DNA sequence modifications.
Epigenetics has revealed that stress can modify how genes are expressed in subsequent generations.


Genetics is a branch of biology concerned with the study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity in organisms.Though heredity had been observed for millennia, Gregor Mendel, Moravian scientist and Augustinian friar working in the 19th century in Brno, was the first to study genetics scientifically. Mendel studied "trait inheritance", patterns in the way traits are handed down from parents to offspring.


In biology, epigenetics is the study of heritable phenotype changes that do not involve alterations in the DNA sequence. The Greek prefix epi- (ἐπι- "over, outside of, around") in epigenetics implies features that are "on top of" or "in addition to" the traditional genetic basis for inheritance.


(used with a sing. verb) The branch of biology that deals with heredity, especially the mechanisms of hereditary transmission and the variation of inherited characteristics among similar or related organisms.


The study of heritable changes in gene expression that are caused by factors such as DNA methylation rather than by a change in the sequence of base pairs in DNA itself.


(used with a pl. verb) The genetic constitution of an individual, group, or class.


(genetics) The study of the processes involved in the genetic development of an organism, especially the activation and deactivation of genes.


(biology) The branch of biology that deals with the transmission and variation of inherited characteristics, in particular chromosomes and DNA.


(genetics) The study of heritable changes caused by the activation and deactivation of genes without any change in DNA sequence.


(biology) The genetic makeup of a specific individual or species.


The branch of biology that studies heredity and variation in organisms

Common Curiosities

What is the primary focus of Genetics?

Genetics primarily studies genes, their functions, and how they are inherited.

How does Epigenetics differ from Genetics?

Epigenetics studies modifications to gene expression without changing the actual DNA sequence, while Genetics focuses on the DNA sequence itself.

Is our genetic code static?

While our DNA sequence is largely static, how genes are expressed can change, especially through Epigenetic mechanisms.

Does Epigenetics play a role in aging?

Yes, Epigenetic changes are associated with aging and age-related diseases.

Are genetic mutations and Epigenetic changes the same?

No, genetic mutations refer to changes in the DNA sequence, while Epigenetic changes affect gene expression without altering the DNA sequence.

What role does Genetics play in evolution?

Genetics provides the basis for variation, which is essential for natural selection and evolution.

How can Epigenetics influence health?

Epigenetic changes can influence the risk of diseases and conditions, often based on environmental exposures.

What's the main tool of study in Genetics?

DNA sequencing is a primary tool in Genetics to determine the sequence of nucleotides in DNA.

Can Epigenetic changes be inherited?

Yes, some Epigenetic changes can be passed on to subsequent generations.

What's the significance of Genetics in medicine?

Genetics enables personalized medicine, understanding genetic disorders, and developing targeted therapies.

How does the environment interact with Epigenetics?

Environmental factors, like nutrition and stress, can induce Epigenetic modifications that impact gene expression.

Can lifestyle choices influence Epigenetics?

Yes, choices like diet, stress, and exposure to toxins can cause Epigenetic changes.

Why is Genetics important in understanding evolution?

Genetics provides insight into heredity and variations, which are key components of evolutionary processes.

Can Genetics explain all of an individual's traits?

While Genetics provides the blueprint, both genetic and environmental factors, including Epigenetic changes, contribute to an individual's traits and health.

Can Epigenetic changes be reversed?

Some Epigenetic changes can be reversed, while others are more stable.

Share Your Discovery

Share via Social Media
Embed This Content
Embed Code
Share Directly via Messenger
Previous Comparison
Bioreactor vs. Fermenter
Next Comparison
Overture vs. Prelude

Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

Popular Comparisons

Trending Comparisons

New Comparisons

Trending Terms