DICTIONARY OF TERMS (1)
CELLS: the smallest unit of living matter that can exist on its own. All plants and animals are made up of cells.
MOLECULES: the smallest unit, consisting of a group of atoms, into which a substance can be divided without a change in its chemical nature.
PROCARYOTE: a microscopic single-celled organism that has neither a distinct.
EUCARYOTE: an organism consisting of a cell or cells in which the genetic material is DNA in the form of chromosomes contained within a distinct nucleus. Eukaryotes include all living organisms other than eubacteria and archaea.
ORGANULE: any structure, such as a nucleus or a chloroplast, that has a particular purpose inside a living cell.
NUCLEOTIDES: a compound consisting of a nucleoside linked to a phosphate group. Nucleotides form the basic structural unit of nucleic acids such as DNA.
GENES: A gene is the basic physical and functional unit of heredity. Genes are made up of DNA. Some genes act as instructions to make molecules called proteins. However, many genes do not code for proteins. In humans, genes vary in size from a few hundred DNA bases to more than 2 million bases.
GENOMA: A genome is an organism's complete set of DNA, including all of its genes. Each genome contains all of the information needed to build and maintain that organism. In humans, a copy of the entire genome-more than 3 billion DNA base pairs-is contained in all cells that have a nucleus.
DNA: DNA, or deoxyribonucleic acid, is the hereditary material in humans and almost all other organisms. Nearly every cell in a person's body has the same DNA. Most DNA is located in the cell nucleus (where it is called nuclear DNA), but a small amount of DNA can also be found in the mitochondria (where it is called mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA). Mitochondria are structures within cells that convert the energy from food into a form that cells can use.
The information in DNA is stored as a code made up of four chemical bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T). Human DNA consists of about 3 billion bases, and more than 99 percent of those bases are the same in all people. The order, or sequence, of these bases, determines the information available for building and maintaining an organism, similar to the way in which letters of the alphabet appear in a certain order to form words and sentences.
HAPLOID: a single set of chromosomes.
HELOCOIDAL : coiled or curving like a spiral.
GENETIC INFORMATION: The genetic information of an organism is stored in DNA molecules. How can one kind of molecule contain all the instructions for making complicated living beings like ourselves? What component or feature of DNA can contain this information? It has to come from the nitrogen bases, because, as you already know, the backbone of all DNA molecules is the same. But there are only four bases found in DNA: G, A, C, and T. The sequence of these four bases can provide all the instructions needed to build any living organism. It might be hard to imagine that 4 different "letters" can communicate so much information. But think about the English language, which can represent a huge amount of information using just 26 letters. Even more profound is the binary code used to write computer programs. This code contains only ones and zeros, and think of all the things your computer can do. The DNA alphabet can encode very complex instructions using just four letters, though the messages end up being long. For example, the E. coli bacterium carries its genetic instructions in a DNA molecule that contains more than five million nucleotides. The human genome (all the DNA of an organism) consists of around three billion nucleotides divided up between 23 paired DNA molecules, or chromosomes.
CHROMOSOME: In the nucleus of each cell, the DNA molecule is packaged into thread-like structures called chromosomes. Each chromosome is made up of DNA tightly coiled many times around proteins called histones that support its structure.
Chromosomes are not visible in the cell's nucleus-not even under a microscope-when the cell is not dividing. However, the DNA that makes up chromosomes becomes more tightly packed during cell division and is then visible under a microscope. Most of what researchers know about chromosomes was learned by observing chromosomes during cell division.
Each chromosome has a constriction point called the centromere, which divides the chromosome into two sections, or "arms." The short arm of the chromosome is labeled the "p arm." The long arm of the chromosome is labeled the "q arm." The location of the centromere on each chromosome gives the chromosome its characteristic shape and can be used to help describe the location of specific genes.