What are chromosomes?

Chromosomes are made up of coiled DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) and are found in the nucleus of every human cell. Although the number of chromosomes varies in each species, the number of chromosomes in a species per cell in the body is identical. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes (diploid) or 46 individual chromosomes (haploid). However, comparison with other creatures shows that the number of chromosomes does not provide any information about the stage of development of the species. While the blackbird has 80 haploid chromosomes, the mosquito has only 6 haploid chromosomes. The chromosomes are so dense in the cell nuclei that if they were spread out they would be 2 meters long.

The influence of chromosomes on our gender

In humans and many animals, sex is determined by chromosomes. A distinction is made between the gonosomes (sex chromosomes) and the autosomes. In humans, chromosome pairs 1-22 are autosomal and therefore gender-independent, and the 23rd chromosome pair is responsible for sex determination.

Humans have two different sex chromosomes, the X and Y chromosomes. Women have two X chromosomes in the 23rd position, while men have one X and one Y chromosome, which can lead to hereditary diseases.

Gender-Specific Hereditary Diseases

If there is a genetic defect on this single male X chromosome, it cannot be picked up by the other chromosome. Females have two X chromosomes at this point, so one healthy chromosome 23 can compensate for the defect in the other. The best-known examples of hereditary diseases, which therefore occur almost exclusively in men, are red-green blindness, Duchenne muscular dystrophy and  hemophilia .

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