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Difference Between Chromosome and Chromatid

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Last updated date: 14th Apr 2024
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Chromosome and Chromatid: What is the Difference?

The study of genetics is a major part of biology for NEET and so are the terms involved in genetics. Some of these are genetic materials like chromosomes and chromatids. Have you come across them yet? They can be pretty confusing, and hard to differentiate. So, how to make it easier? By learning the difference between chromosome and chromatid from the article below. Not only that but you will also have access to information related to similarities between the two. So, what are you waiting for? Get, set, go, now!

What is Chromosome and Chromatid?

It’s very often that students skip on the basics of a topic, and jump to the more complex parts. This results in getting confused with the easiest of things related to the topic. To prevent this, below is a brief explanation of chromosomes and chromatids. Before learning the difference between chromosome and chromatid, it is important for you to learn- what they are. So, read below to do the same.


Chromosomes

Chromosomes are found in the cell nucleus. They are condensed structures made of DNA and proteins. The genetic information they carry is expressed in the form of genes. These help in essential processes like DNA replication, cell division, and inheritance. If there are any changes made to the chromosome's structure, it leads to genetic disorders. At times, the overall functioning of the cell is also affected. To view these, you can use different techniques like karyotyping. It helps to provide valuable information on the genetic makeup of any individual.

 

Chromatids

When a chromosome is found in the nucleus in a condensed and replicated form, it is termed a chromatid. When a cell undergoes cell division, chromosomes go ahead and replicate. In this process, two chromatids are formed and they are joined together through a structure called- centromere. The formation of chromatids from the chromosome usually occurs during S-phase in cell division. Thus, chromatids are very essential in carrying out cell division.


Chromatids carry the genetic information from the parent chromosome and ensure that the genetic material is accurately distributed to the daughter cells. When cell division reaches the anaphase stage, the chromatids again separate and form individual chromosomes.


Difference Between Chromosome and Chromatid

Some terms in biology that sound the somewhat same, and are in the same section, become a nightmare for the NEET students. And two of these terms are- chromosome and chromatid. If you want to know the difference between chromosome and chromatid, check out the table below:


S.No.

Category

Chromosome

Chromatid

1

Structure

Whole (structures)

Partial (structures)

2

Cell Cycle

Usually found in non-dividing cells

Their formation takes place during the process of cell division

3

Composition

Comprises of a singular DNA molecule

Comprises of DNA molecules that are replicated

4

Formation

Formed by condensation of chromatin

Derived from replicated chromosomes

5

Presence

Present in both somatic and germ cells

Present only during specific cell stages

6

Function

Involved in genetic inheritance

Facilitate genetic material distribution

7

Genetic Information

Carry genes

Carry genetic information

8

Number 

Vary in number among different species

Occur in pairs or multiple copies

9

Genetic Variation

Responsible for genetic variation

Ensure faithful DNA transmission

10

Recombination

May undergo recombination

Do not undergo recombination

11

Visualization

Can be visualised through karyotyping

Not directly visible through techniques

12

DNA Replication

Formed during DNA replication

Their formation occurs in cell division's  S phase

14

Size 

Can vary in size

Generally smaller in size

15

Timing

Present throughout the cell cycle

Present only during specific cell stages

16

Genetic Inheritance

Inherited from parents

Passed on during cell division

17

Alignment during Cell Division

Align on the metaphase plate

Separate during anaphase of cell division

18

Role in Genetic Stability

Essential for maintaining stability

Ensure proper distribution of DNA


Similarities: Characteristics of Chromosome and Chromatid

When we talk about some similarities between chromosomes and chromatids, they are more than you’d imagine. And they are very useful when one wants to explain chromosome and chromatid. Will you like to learn some of them? Then read the points below:


  1. Genetic Material: In chromosomes as well as chromatids, DNA is the genetic material. 

  2. DNA Replication: While the cell is in the process of completing a cell cycle, both of them undergo DNA replication. 

  3. Composed of DNA and Proteins: Chromatids and chromosomes are both composed of protein wrapped around the DNA molecules.

  4. Formation during Cell Division: Both (chromatids and chromosomes) are formed during cell division.

  5. Centromere Structure: A centromere is responsible for both attachment and separation in chromatids and chromosomes. 

  6. Role in Cell Division: They both function to ensure the proper distribution of genetic material.

  7. Association with Mitosis and Meiosis: Their involvement is present in both mitosis and meiosis (the two important cell division processes). 

  8. Conservation of Genetic Information: The genetic information they carry is the same if the chromosome and chromatid both belong to the same human. 

  9. Stability and Maintenance: Together, chromatids and chromosomes, play an important role in maintaining genetic stability and maintenance.

  10. Subject to Genetic Variation: They are both capable of undergoing genetic variations. 


Conclusion

Chromosomes and chromatids are an essential part of genetics. The importance of their involvement in vital processes necessary for cell replication like mitosis and meiosis. There is an unmistakable difference between chromosome and chromatid but there are also similarities. The grounds for their differences are- structure, function, composition, cell cycle, formation, etc. Whereas they are similar on grounds like the structure of the centromere, genetic material, etc.

FAQs on Difference Between Chromosome and Chromatid

1. How to differentiate between chromosomes, chromatids, and chromatin?

All three- chromosomes, chromatids, and chromatin are interrelated but different. They follow the hierarchy where one forms the other. Here chromatin is a substance that's found inside the nucleus of the cell. The primary elements of chromatin's composition are -  proteins and DNA. Then the chromosome is the condensed form of chromatin, it's formed during cell division. Lastly, for a chromatid to be formed, the chromosome shows splitting and forms two identical strands. These strands are chromatids, later they form a new chromosome in a new cell.

2. Is every chromatid a chromosome?

No, not every chromatid makes a chromosome. Instead, each chromatid is formed as replicated copies of a chromosome. And they are held together by a centromere (a region where they appear connected). While the cell undergoes division for instance- mitosis or meiosis, individual chromosomes are made by the separation of two chromatids. Therefore, although a part of a chromosome, a chromatid cannot be individually considered a chromosome. Because a chromosome generally has one or two chromatids that make it. The number of chromatids depends on the stage the cell cycle is in.

3. Does the nucleus have 23 pairs of chromatids or chromosomes?

Each human cell contains 23 pairs of chromosomes. And this totals 46 chromosomes in each human cell. When seen in depth, there are 22 pairs of these chromosomes, termed autosomes. They are present in males as well as females. Whereas the last of the 23 pairs of chromosomes are the sex chromosomes. They are different in both males and females.