One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
A threadlike structure of nucleic acids and protein found in the nucleus of most living cells, carrying genetic information in the form of genes.
- ‘The sex chromosomes are placed to the right of the smallest autosomal chromosomes.’
- ‘The sizes of the two centromeres from the homologous chromosomes are different.’
- ‘So a genetic map is an abstract entity that tells you the relative positions of genes on chromosomes.’
- ‘Our genes are located on 46 paired structures, or chromosomes, in the cell nucleus.’
- ‘Ring chromosomes, chromatid exchanges and polyploidies were also observed at some treatments.’
Each chromosome consists of a DNA double helix bearing a linear sequence of genes, coiled and recoiled around aggregated proteins (histones). Their number varies from species to species: humans have 22 pairs plus the two sex chromosomes (two X chromosomes in females, one X and one Y in males). During cell division each DNA strand is duplicated, and the chromosomes condense to become visible as distinct pairs of chromatids joined at the centromere
Late 19th century: coined in German from Greek khrōma ‘colour’ + sōma ‘body’.
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