Difference Between Chromatin and Chromosomes

Before getting into the difference between chromatin fiber and chromosomes, let’s recapitulate what we have learnt about chromatin and chromosomes. Chromatin is a complex, made up of DNA and proteins. It is found in eukaryotic cells only. Chromatin is responsible for packaging DNA double helix. It also helps in avoiding DNA entanglement, protecting DNA from any kind of damage, and DNA replication. On the other hand, Chromosomes are composed of packaged proteins and DNA and exhibit the genetic information. It is also found in eukaryotic cells only. Chromosomes developed from condensed chromatin fibers. Now, let’s get into the prime topic- “what is the difference between chromatin fiber and chromosomes”.


The differences between Chromatin and chromosomes are tabulated below:


Difference Between Chromatin Fibre and Chromosome

Basis

Chromatin

Chromosome

Meaning/definition

Chromatin is a complex formed by histones packaging the DNA double helix.

Chromosomes are structures of proteins and nucleic acids found in the living cells and carry genetic material.

Composition/structure

Chromatin is composed of nucleosomes.

Chromosomes are composed of condensed chromatin fibers.

Appearance

They are long, thin, and uncoiled structures.

Chromosomes are thick, compact, and ribbon-like structures.

Pairing

Chromatin is unpaired

Chromosome is paired.

presence

Throughout the cell cycle

Visible during cell division.

Metabolism

DNA replication and RNA synthesis.

No metabolic activities

Visualization

Electron microscope

Light microscope


We have tried to cover up sufficient points for the difference between chromatin and chromosomes. We hope that if the question comes - differentiate between chromatin and chromosomes, you have sufficient points for answering the same.


Chromatin vs. Chromosome (Structure)

Let’s take the discussion a bit further and differentiate between chromatin and chromosome based on their structure. For this, we'll be explaining the structure of chromatins and chromosomes one by one.


Structure of Chromatin

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We’ll begin our discussion of chromatin vs. chromosome by defining the structure of chromatin first.

  • Structural Entity: Nucleosomes are the structural entity of chromatin.

  • Size: 10nm (approx)

  • Representation: DNA overlapping nucleoproteins by a magnitude of 50.

  • Chromatin also helps in the formation of chromosomes.


Structure of Chromosomes

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Now, let’s define the structure of chromosomes.

  • Structural Entity: Chromatins fibers are the structural entity of chromosomes.

  • Size: 1 to >20 μm (approx)

We hope that the structural difference between the chromatin and chromosomes is very much clear. So if you are asked to differentiate between chromatin and chromosome, based on structure, you have a sufficient answer.


Chromatin vs. Chromosome (Metabolism)

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Now, let’s talk about the metabolic difference between chromatin fibre and chromosome. We’ll be following the same pattern i.e. defining the metabolic activities one by one.


Metabolic Activities in Chromatin

Chromatin Shows the Following Metabolic Activities:

DNA Replication: DNA replication is the process by which genetic material is passed from the parent cell to the daughter cells. When a cell grows, it must replicate the DNA to carry forward the genetic information, which is done by replicating the dna.


RNA Synthesis: RNA synthesis or transcription is a process by which the gene codons are copied into RNA polymerase. It creates RNA copies of the genes for the cells to use and results in the formation of mRNA, tRNA, etc.


Metabolic Activities in Chromosomes

Chromosomes don't exhibit any metabolic activities. The reason behind this is the structure of the chromosomes. Since they are tightly coiled, it becomes unmanageable for the chromosomes to perform metabolism.


We have differentiated chromatin and chromosomes based on metabolic activities. If the question arises- explain the metabolic activities in chromatin, we have covered sufficient points. We'll be heading towards our next section- Difference between chromatin fiber and chromosomes based on presence. 


Chromatin Vs. Chromosome (Presence)

After differentiating between chromatin fiber and chromosomes based on metabolic activities, let's now distinguish between chromatin and chromosomes based on their presence in genetic processes. 


Presence of Chromatin

For this section, let’s first see the presence of chromatin fibers.

  • Chromatin fibers are found at every stage of the cell cycle.

  • The further coiling of chromatin fibers leads to the formation of chromosomes.


Presence of Chromosomes

Now, let’s see the presence of chromosomes.


We’ll see the presence of chromosomes in two types of cells:

  • Diploid Cells: Diploid cells show two complete sets of chromosomes.

  • Haploid Cells: Haploid cells show a single complete set of chromosomes.


Fun Fact: How are Chromosomes and Chromatin Related to Each Other?

We have seen how chromatin and chromosomes differ from each other. Now, we’ll be looking forward to the last topic of our discussion i.e. the relationship between chromosomes and chromatin fibers.


Chromatin fibers are formed of Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) and proteins. When the cell carries out the process of division, chromatin fibers start condensing into long threads and become rod-like structures called chromosomes.


Just like chromatin, chromosomes also contain DNA, which is required for protein synthesis. The hereditary material, DNA, contains all the genetic material to be forwarded to the next generation.


Here we are done with our discussion about the difference between chromatin and chromosomes. We have covered sufficient points regarding the topic and hope that it was useful for you. We’ll be ending our discussion about chromatin vs. Chromosome with some questions related to the topic - the difference between chromatin fibre and chromosome.

FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. What are the Metabolic Activities Performed by Chromatin Fibers? How are They Different From Those Performed by Chromosomes?

Ans. Chromatin Performs the Following Metabolic Activities:

DNA Replication: DNA replication is the process by which genetic material is passed from the parent cell to the daughter cells. When a cell grows, it must replicate the DNA to carry forward the genetic information, which is done by replicating the DNA.


RNA Synthesis: RNA synthesis or transcription is a process by which the gene codons are copied into RNA polymerase. It creates RNA copies of the genes for the cells to use and results in the formation of mRNA, tRNA, etc.


Difference Between Chromatin and Chromosomes

Chromosomes don't exhibit any metabolic activities. The reason behind this is the structure of the chromosomes. Since they are tightly coiled, it becomes unmanageable for the chromosomes to perform metabolism.

2. Explain the Relationship Between Chromatins and Chromosomes.

Ans. We have already derived and differentiated between the chromatin and the chromosome which will help us to understand the relationship between the two components. The Chromatin fibers are formed of Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) and proteins. When the cell carries out the process of division, the chromatin fibers start condensing into long threads and become rod-like structures called chromosomes. Just like the chromatin, the chromosomes also contain DNA, which is required for protein synthesis. The hereditary material, DNA, contains all the genetic material to be forwarded to the next generation. This is how chromatins and chromosomes are related to one another.