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Pronunciation: kro'mo-som

Definition: One of the bodies (normally 46 in somatic cells in humans) in the cell nucleus that is the bearer of genes, has the form of a delicate chromatin filament during interphase, contracts to form a compact cylinder segmented into two arms by the centromere during metaphase and anaphase stages of cell divison, and is capable of reproducing its physical and chemical structure through successive cell divisons. In bacteria and other prokaryotes, the chromosome is not enclosed within a nuclear membrane and not subject to a mitotic mechanism. Prokaryotes may have more than one chromosome.

[chromo- + G. soma, body]

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© Copyright 2018 Wolters Kluwer. All Rights Reserved. Review date: Sep 19, 2016.