15 Important Difference between Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Chromosomes

What is the difference between prokaryotic and eukaryotic chromosomes?

A chromosome is a very vital cell organelle. Chromosomes are responsible for hereditary and variation since they are the carrier of genes. Prokaryotes and eukaryotes have a different structure of chromosomes.

The core difference between prokaryotic and eukaryotic chromosomes is that prokaryotic chromosomes are short and circular molecules while eukaryotic chromosomes are long and linear molecules.

Difference between Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Chromosomes

What are Prokaryotic Chromosomes?

Prokaryotic chromosomes are the carrier of genetic materials for prokaryotes. They contain a total DNA pool with plasmid DNA. Each prokaryote cell has a single chromosome which is a covalently closed circular molecule.

The DNA molecule is not membrane-bound and it occurs in the cytoplasm. The nucleoid association helps the chromosome to form a loop structure for packing.

What You Need to Know about Prokaryotic Chromosomes

  1. Chromosomal DNA is a circular protein structure
  2. Chromosomal DNA is present in the cytoplasm
  3. Has no definite morphological structure of DNA replication
  4. The basic protein histones are absent
  5. The chromosome DNA is not complex with proteins
  6. They are primarily haploid

What are Eukaryotic Chromosomes?

Eukaryotic chromosomes are genetic material for eukaryotes. The chromosomes are membrane-bound and it results in a nucleus organelle.

Each eukaryotic cell contains 10-50 chromosomes. For instance, a human genome is known to contain 3 billion pairs of chromosomes.

The centromere is the center for each chromosome and the end of the chromosomes is known as telomeres. The main protein associate for DNA dense packaging is Histone.

What You Need to Know about Eukaryotic Chromosomes

  1. They are primarily diploid
  2. The chromosome DNA is complex with proteins
  3. Histone is present in the chromosomal DNA
  4. Chromosome DNA is confined within the nucleus
  5. The chromosome DNA is a linear polymer
  6. During mitosis, DNA replication occurs during S phase

Comparison Chart: Prokaryotic Chromosomes vs Eukaryotic Chromosomes

Basic Terms Prokaryotic ChromosomesEukaryotic Chromosomes
MeaningRefer to the double-stranded circular DNA in prokaryotesRefer to the double-stranded long DNA materials in eukaryotes
NumberContain single chromosomesContain numerous chromosomes
OccurrenceOccur in the nucleoidOccur in the nucleus
Homologous ChromosomesNo homologous chromosomesHave a pair of homologous chromosomes
Attachment to the CytoplasmGet attached to the cytoplasm from insideHave no contact with the cytoplasm
General StructureTend to be short and circular moleculesTend to belong and linear DNA molecules
Telomeres/CentromeresAbsentPresent
Association with ProteinsOnly with nucleoid-associated proteinsTend to associate with histone
DNA ReplicationOccur at the beginning of cell divisionOccur during the S phase of the cell cycle
Origin of ReplicationHas a single origin of replication per chromosomeHas several origins of replication per chromosome
Gene StructureGenes tend to be organized into operonsGenes are regulated as individual structures
Number of ProteinsTend to be encoded with few proteinsTend to be encoded with a large number of proteins
Genetic RecombinationTend to achieve genetic recombination through horizontal gene transferTend to achieve genetic recombination through meiosis and fusion of gametes.
Negative ChargeTend to be nullified with a magnesium ionTend to be nullified with histone proteins
NatureHaploidDiploid

Core Differences between Eukaryotic and Prokaryotic Chromosomes In Point Form

  1. Prokaryotic chromosomes are found in the cytoplasm while eukaryotic chromosomes are found in the nucleus
  2. Prokaryotic chromosomes are short and circular DNA molecules while eukaryotic chromosomes are long and linear DNA molecules
  3. Prokaryotic chromosomes have single chromosomes plus plasmid while eukaryotic chromosomes are several
  4. Prokaryotic chromosomes are not complex with histones while eukaryotic chromosomes are complex with histones.
  5. Prokaryotic chromosomes are primarily haploid while eukaryotic chromosomes are primarily diploid
  6. Eukaryotic chromosome DNA replication occurs during S phase of the cell cycle while prokaryotic chromosome DNA replication occurs at the beginning of cell division
  7. The negative charge of eukaryotic chromosomes are nullified by histone while for prokaryotic chromosomes are nullified by a magnesium ion
  8. Eukaryotic chromosomes are coded for a large number of proteins while prokaryotic chromosomes are coded for few proteins
  9. Eukaryotic chromosomes are enclosed in the nucleus while prokaryotic chromosomes occupy freely the center of the cell
  10. Eukaryotic chromosomes have no direct contact with cytoplasm while prokaryotic chromosomes have direct contact with cytoplasm from inside
  11. Prokaryotic chromosomes have single-origin while eukaryotic chromosomes have several origins
  12. Eukaryotic chromosomes have both telomere and centromere while prokaryotic chromosomes tend to lack
  13. Eukaryotic chromosomes have homologous chromosomes while prokaryotic chromosomes do not have
  14. Prokaryotic chromosomes have organized gene structure into operons while eukaryotic chromosomes have genes that are regulated by individual structures
  15. Prokaryotic chromosomes are present in prokaryotes while eukaryotic chromosomes are present in eukaryotes

Similarities between Prokaryotic and Eukaryotic Chromosomes

  1. Both chromosomes contain DNA materials
  2. Both have a similar chemical composition and structural organization of DNA
  3. Both are facilitated by translation and transcription
  4. Both negative charges are nullified
  5. Both undergo DNA methylation for the structural regulation of gene expression.

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Comparison Video

Summary

The main difference between prokaryotic and eukaryotic chromosomes is that prokaryotic chromosomes are haploid while eukaryotic chromosomes are diploid. But both chromosomes have the same genetic composition.

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