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The objective of this blog is to answer one question a week in KS3 and KS4 science from students who write in to us. Questions on the minds of our youngest and brightest. That’s school years 7 to 11. Simply send your questions over to us!
What is the difference between DNA, Chromosomes and Genes?
Sometimes made out to be more complex than it really is; understanding DNA, genes and chromosomes is really quite simple. Read on below:
Remember cells? The small brick like objects that make up all living organisms – your entire body is made up of them. In fact, your body is made up of over 37 trillion of them.
In each of your cells you find a nucleus (nucleus just means the center), and in that nucleus you find your DNA.
Your DNA is a long chemical, like a microscopic strand of hair, that contains instructions for all of your characterics. A section of your DNA that carries instructions for a particular characteristic is called a gene. As humans, we have over 30 thousand different characteristics such as hair colour, eye colour, skin colour and ear shape. For each of these characteristics we have a gene – meaning, as humans, we have over 30 thousand genes!
You can imagine, with 30 thousand genes, this makes the DNA strand very long. It is so long, in fact, that it has to be organised into a very special way, so that it can fit inside your cell. Your DNA is divided into 46 separate strands – and each of those strands is coiled extremely tightly, just like a spring. When your DNA is coiled up like this, we call this coiled DNA chromosomes.
Remember – every single cell in your body has DNA inside, look at the following diagram to see how everything is arranged.
The guys over at TED-Ed have got a fantastic video that explains this, and even goes into a tiny bit more detail for those that want to know more!
Hopefully this helps! Don’t forget to come back to us next week for more. For more science related information during the week, be sure to subscribe to our twitter at https://twitter.com/greensciencet