Prokaryotic and eukaryotic chromosomes: What's the difference?

Arnold J. Bendich, Karl Drlica

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


It is widely held that the profound differences in cellular architecture between prokaryotes and eukaryotes, in particular the housing of eukaryotic chromosomes within a nuclear membrane, also extends to the properties of their chromosomes. When chromosomal multiplicity, ploidy, linearity, transcriptional silencing, partitioning, and packaging are considered, no consistent association is found between any of these properties and the presence or absence of a nuclear membrane. Some of the perceived differences can be attributed to cytological limitations imposed by the small size of bacterial nucleoids and the arbitrary choice of representative organisms for comparison. We suggest that the criterion of nucleosome-based packaging of chromosomal DNA may be more useful than the prokaryote/eukaryote dichotomy for inferring the broadest phylogenetic relationships among organisms. (C) 2000 John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)481-486
Number of pages6
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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