Biology

Difference Between Prokaryotic Chromosomes and Eukaryotic Chromosomes

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Main Difference

The main difference between Prokaryotic Chromosomes and Eukaryotic Chromosomes is that Prokaryotic Chromosomes are present in the cytoplasm of the cell, short in size, and contain circular DNA molecules, whereas Eukaryotic Chromosomes are present in the nucleus, long in size and have linear DNA structure.

Prokaryotic Chromosomes vs. Eukaryotic Chromosomes

Prokaryotic Chromosomes referred to as the chromosomes that are found in prokaryotic organisms and are in double-stranded circular DNA structures. Eukaryotic Chromosomes are the chromosomes that are found in eukaryotic organisms and have long strands of DNA i.e., a linear form containing genetic information. Prokaryotic Chromosomes are present in the open cytoplasm of the prokaryotic organism, whereas Eukaryotic Chromosomes are present in the nucleus of the cell.

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Prokaryotic Chromosomes are haploid i.e., their genomes are singularly present in the cell and do not have any homologous chromosomes; however, Eukaryotic Chromosomes are diploid i.e., they occur in pairs with their homologous chromosomes in the cell. Prokaryotic Chromosomes as residing in the cytoplasm have direct contact with the cytoplasm and attached to cytoplasm from the inside, while Eukaryotic Chromosomes have no contact with cytoplasm as they are found in the nucleus.

In Prokaryotic Chromosomes the genes organize themselves into operons, however, in Eukaryotic Chromosomes, these genes are regulated as singular structures. Prokaryotic chromosomes led to only a few proteins with their information while coding. Eukaryotic Chromosomes led to encoding or larger proteins with the information carried on the genes. Prokaryotic Chromosomes undergo genetic recombination via horizontal gene transfer, while Eukaryotic Chromosomes undergo genetic recombination via fusion of gametes and meiosis.

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Prokaryotic Chromosomes associate with nucleoid-associated proteins that help themselves in packing, whereas Eukaryotic Chromosomes do not associate with nucleoid-associated proteins; rather, they form special structures known as nucleosomes by associating with histones. Prokaryotic Chromosomes’ structure also varies in respect of the presence of telomeres and centromeres as they are short sized and circular DNA strands; however, Eukaryotic Chromosomes have telomeres which are the end of each chromosome and centromere which acts as a point of attachment for two chromatids.

Prokaryotic Chromosomes are only present alone with no pairs and make up the entire genetic information of the organism, but, Eukaryotic Chromosomes are present in pairs and have several chromosomes that vary within each eukaryotic species. Prokaryotic Chromosomes vary in their structure as they are short in size and have circular DNA strands, whereas, Eukaryotic Chromosomes are lengthy in size and have linear DNA strands. The Prokaryotic Chromosomes replicate at the beginning of cell division to form sister chromatids, whereas, Eukaryotic Chromosomes replicate when they enter S-phase of the cell cycle.

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Comparison Chart

Prokaryotic ChromosomesEukaryotic Chromosomes
Prokaryotic Chromosomes are found in prokaryotic organisms, which have double-stranded circular DNA structuresEukaryotic Chromosomes are the chromosomes that are found in eukaryotic organisms, which have long strands of DNA structures
Quantity
SingleSeveral chromosomes in a cell
Occurrence
In cytoplasmIn nucleus
Homologous Chromosomes
Not PresentPresent
Contact with Cytoplasm
Directly in contact with the cytoplasmNo contact
Structure
Short & circularLong & Linear
Telomeres and Centromeres
AbsentPresent
Association With Protein
Associated with nucleoid-associated proteinsForm nucleosomes by associating with histones
DNA Replication
At the beginningDuring S-phase of cell cycle
Origin of Replication
Single-originMultiple-origins
Gene Structure
Organized into operonsIndividual Structures
Number of Proteins
Encode to a few proteinsEncode to a larger number of proteins
Genetic Recombination
Via horizontal gene transferVia meiosis and fusion of gametes

What are the Prokaryotic Chromosomes?

The Prokaryotic Chromosomes are the chromosomes that are found in prokaryotic organisms and are in double-stranded circular DNA structures. These are present in the open cytoplasm of the prokaryotic cell and have direct contact with the cytoplasm and are attached to the cytoplasm from the inside. These chromosomes are haploid i.e., their genomes are singularly present in the cell and do not have any homologous chromosomes. That’s the reason these chromosomes are found alone with no pairs and make up the entire genetic information of the organism.

Prokaryotic Chromosomes vary in their structure too as they are short in size and have circular DNA strands. They neither have telomeres nor centromeres as they are short sized and are circular DNA strands. The genes on these chromosomes organize themselves into operons and can encode only a few proteins with the information resided in their structures. They also associate with nucleoid-associated proteins that help themselves in packing of their structure.

Prokaryotic Chromosomes undergo genetic recombination via horizontal gene transfer and undergo a process of replication at the beginning of cell division to form sister chromatids.

What are the Eukaryotic Chromosomes?

Eukaryotic Chromosomes are the chromosomes that are found in eukaryotic organisms comprising of longer strands of DNA. These chromosomes are found in linear structures in the cell of these organisms. Unlike Prokaryotic Chromosomes, these are present in the nucleus of the cell and are found to have no contact with the cytoplasm of the cell. These are singular and linear structures and contain the information for the encoding of proteins i.e., genetic information for organisms. These chromosomes lead to the coding of larger proteins.

Eukaryotic Chromosomes have telomeres and centromeres. These telomeres are the endpoint of each chromosome, and centromeres are the place on chromosome denser than the rest of the chromosome, which acts as a point of attachment for two chromatids. These chromosomes are found in pairs and have several chromosomes that vary within each eukaryotic species. That’s why known to be diploid.

Eukaryotic Chromosomes do not associate with nucleoid-associated proteins; rather, they form special structures known as nucleosomes by associating with histone. They undergo genetic recombination via fusion of gametes and meiosis and replicate when they enter S-phase of the cell cycle, unlike Prokaryotic Chromosomes that undergo during the start of the cell cycle.

Key Differences

  1. Prokaryotic Chromosomes are found in prokaryotic organisms and are in double-stranded DNA structures, whereas Eukaryotic Chromosomes are found in eukaryotic organisms and have long strands of DNA.
  2. Prokaryotic Chromosomes occur singularly; on the flip side, Eukaryotic Chromosomes are present in larger quantities.
  3. Prokaryotic Chromosomes are present in the open cytoplasm; on the contrary, Eukaryotic Chromosomes are present inside the nucleus of the cell.
  4. Prokaryotic Chromosomes are haploid and do not have any homologous chromosomes; however, Eukaryotic Chromosomes are diploid as they occur in pairs.
  5. Prokaryotic Chromosomes have direct contact with the cytoplasm; on the other hand, Eukaryotic Chromosomes have no contact with the cytoplasm.
  6. Prokaryotic Chromosomes are short in size and have circular DNA strands, but, Eukaryotic Chromosomes are long and have linear DNA strands.
  7. Prokaryotic Chromosomes do not possess structures like telomeres and centromeres; on the contrary, Eukaryotic Chromosomes have telomeres and centromeres.
  8. Prokaryotic Chromosomes associate with nucleoid-associated proteins; on the flip side, Eukaryotic Chromosomes do not associate with nucleoid-associated proteins; rather, they form nucleosomes by associating with histones.
  9. The Prokaryotic Chromosomes replicate at the beginning of cell division, but, Eukaryotic Chromosomes replicate when they enter S-phase of the cell cycle.
  10. Prokaryotic Chromosomes genes organize themselves into operons, whereas, in Eukaryotic Chromosomes, these genes are regulated as singular structures.
  11. Prokaryotic chromosomes code to only a few proteins, on the other hand, Eukaryotic Chromosomes encode larger proteins.
  12. Prokaryotic Chromosomes undergo genetic recombination via horizontal gene transfer, whereas, Eukaryotic Chromosomes undergo genetic recombination via fusion of gametes and meiosis.

Conclusion

Prokaryotic Chromosomes are present in the cytoplasm of the cell, short, circular DNA structures, and possess the singular origin of replication per chromosome, while Eukaryotic Chromosomes are present in the nucleus of the cell, lengthy, with linear DNA structure and have multiple origins of replication.

Janet White

Janet White is a writer and blogger for Difference Wiki since 2015. She has a master's degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University. Apart from work, she enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with her friends and family. Connect with her on Twitter @Janet__White

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