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Chromosomes vs. Chromatid: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Published on January 24, 2024
Chromosomes are long DNA molecules with genetic information; chromatids are half of a duplicated chromosome, joined at a centromere.

Key Differences

Chromosomes are structures within cells that contain DNA and proteins, crucial for storing genetic information. Chromatids, on the other hand, refer specifically to the identical halves of a duplicated chromosome, connected by a centromere, and are integral during cell division.
Chromosomes exist in a cell's nucleus holding genes, while chromatids become visible only during certain stages of cell division. A chromosome splits into two chromatids during replication, preparing for mitosis or meiosis.
The number of chromosomes in a cell is a species-specific characteristic, but each chromosome, during cell division, forms two chromatids to ensure equal genetic distribution. This highlights the transitional existence of chromatids.
Chromosomes function as genetic repositories throughout a cell's life, whereas chromatids play a role primarily during cell division, serving as vehicles for genetic material distribution.
Chromosomes are long-standing structures in cells, while chromatids are temporary formations during the chromosome replication process, essential for genetic material segregation.

Comparison Chart


Long DNA molecules with genes
Halves of a duplicated chromosome


Present constantly in cells
Visible only during cell division


Store and transmit genetic information
Facilitate equal genetic distribution


Fixed number per species
Double the number of chromosomes during division

Structural Role

Integral part of cell's genetic makeup
Temporary, forming during replication

Chromosomes and Chromatid Definitions


Chromosomes are DNA-protein complexes in cells carrying genetic information.
Human cells typically contain 23 pairs of chromosomes.


A chromatid is one of two identical halves of a replicated chromosome.
During mitosis, chromatids separate to form new nuclei.


Chromosomes are the carriers of genes in biological organisms.
Genetic traits are passed through chromosomes from parents to offspring.


Chromatids are joined together at a region called the centromere.
The centromere is essential for the proper separation of chromatids.


Chromosomes determine the physical and genetic characteristics of an organism.
Abnormalities in chromosomes can lead to genetic disorders.


Chromatids become individual chromosomes after cell division.
Post-mitosis, each daughter cell receives one chromatid from each chromosome.


Each chromosome is composed of DNA tightly coiled many times around proteins called histones.
Chromosomes ensure DNA is accurately copied and distributed in the vast majority of cell divisions.


Chromatids play a crucial role in genetic variation during meiosis.
Crossing over between chromatids leads to genetic recombination.


Chromosomes are thread-like structures located in the nucleus of animal and plant cells.
During cell division, chromosomes become highly visible under a microscope.


Each chromatid contains a single, continuous DNA molecule.
Post replication, a chromosome consists of two DNA molecules, each in a chromatid.


A linear strand of DNA and associated proteins in the nucleus of eukaryotic cells that carries the genes and functions in the transmission of hereditary information.


Either of the two daughter strands of a replicated chromosome that are joined by a single centromere and separate during cell division to become individual chromosomes.


A circular strand of DNA in bacteria and archaea that contains the hereditary information necessary for cell life.


(genetics) After DNA replication, either of the two connected double-helix strands of a metaphase chromosome that separate during mitosis.


Plural of chromosome


One of two identical strands into which a chromosome splits during mitosis.


One of two identical strands into which a chromosome splits during mitosis


What are chromosomes?

Chromosomes are long DNA molecules that contain an organism's genes.

What connects two chromatids?

The centromere connects them.

What is the role of chromatids in cell division?

They ensure each new cell receives an identical set of genes.

How are chromatids formed?

They form when a chromosome replicates before cell division.

Do chromatids exist throughout the cell cycle?

No, they're visible only during certain cell division stages.

How do chromosomes differ from chromatids?

Chromosomes are constant genetic structures; chromatids are temporary during replication.

How do chromosomal abnormalities affect health?

They can lead to genetic disorders and developmental issues.

How many chromosomes do humans have?

Humans typically have 46 chromosomes.

What are chromatids?

Chromatids are identical halves of a replicated chromosome.

What happens to chromatids during mitosis?

They separate and become individual chromosomes in daughter cells.

What is the function of chromosomes?

They store and transmit genetic information.

Can chromosomes be seen under a microscope?

Yes, particularly during cell division.

What is the significance of chromosome number in a species?

It's crucial for species-specific genetic makeup and reproduction.

How do chromatids contribute to genetic diversity?

Through recombination and independent assortment during meiosis.

Are chromatids identical?

Yes, each chromatid in a pair is genetically identical.

Can external factors affect chromosomes?

Yes, factors like radiation and chemicals can cause chromosomal damage.

Do chromosomes change over an organism's lifetime?

Their basic structure remains the same, but DNA can mutate.

Are all chromosomes the same size?

No, chromosome size can vary significantly.

Are chromosomes the same in all organisms?

No, the number and structure of chromosomes vary among species.

Can chromatids undergo genetic changes?

Yes, during crossing over in meiosis, leading to genetic variation.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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