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Centrosome vs. Chromosome — What's the Difference?

By Fiza Rafique & Urooj Arif — Updated on April 22, 2024
Centrosomes are cellular structures that organize microtubules, whereas chromosomes are structures within cells that contain genetic material.
Centrosome vs. Chromosome — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Centrosome and Chromosome


Key Differences

Centrosomes serve as the main microtubule organizing centers in animal cells, crucial for shaping the cell and aiding in cell division; whereas chromosomes are long strands of DNA wrapped around proteins, containing the genes necessary for hereditary information and cellular functions.
During cell division, the centrosome duplicates and the two parts move to opposite poles to help form the mitotic spindle, which is essential for segregating chromosomes; on the other hand, chromosomes condense and become visible, aligning in the center of the cell to be separated into daughter cells.
The structure of a centrosome typically includes a pair of perpendicular centrioles surrounded by proteinaceous material, whereas a chromosome consists of a tightly coiled DNA-protein complex known as chromatin, which ensures efficient packaging of the genetic material.
Mutations or abnormalities in centrosome function can lead to errors in cell division and contribute to diseases like cancer; in contrast, abnormalities in chromosome number or structure can lead to genetic disorders such as Down syndrome or Turner syndrome.
In terms of discovery, centrosomes were identified in the late 19th century by Theodor Boveri, who recognized their role in cell division; chromosomes were also first observed in the 19th century, but their genetic significance was established later through the work of scientists like Thomas Hunt Morgan.

Comparison Chart


Cellular structure organizing microtubules and aiding cell division.
Structure containing DNA that carries genetic information.

Location in Cell

Near the nucleus.
Within the nucleus.


Consists of centrioles and surrounding proteins.
Composed of DNA and histone proteins.

Role in Cell Division

Helps in spindle formation and segregation of chromosomes.
Undergoes replication and segregation to ensure genetic continuity.

Associated Disorders

Abnormalities can lead to cancer.
Abnormalities can cause genetic disorders like Down syndrome.

Compare with Definitions


Found only in animal cells, it aids in cellular organization.
The centrosome's location near the nucleus is strategic for its function.


Crucial for hereditary transmission of traits.
Chromosomal abnormalities can lead to various genetic disorders.


A cellular structure that organizes microtubules.
The centrosome plays a critical role in the process of cell division.


Undergoes replication during the cell cycle.
Chromosomes must replicate their DNA before a cell divides to ensure each daughter cell receives a complete set.


Comprises centrioles that help in forming the spindle.
During mitosis, the centrosome duplicates and migrates to opposite poles of the cell.


Each species has a characteristic number of chromosomes.
Chromosome counts can be used to differentiate species at a genetic level.


Linked to cell motility and positioning.
The centrosome is crucial for directing the cell's movement and structure.


A structure that carries genetic information in the form of DNA.
Humans typically have 46 chromosomes in each cell.


Important for the geometry of cell division.
Without a properly functioning centrosome, a cell may not divide correctly.


Consists of DNA coiled around histone proteins.
Chromosomes become highly condensed and visible during cell division.


In cell biology, the centrosome (Latin centrum 'center' + Greek sōma 'body') (also called cytocenter) is an organelle that serves as the main microtubule organizing center (MTOC) of the animal cell, as well as a regulator of cell-cycle progression. The centrosome provides structure for the cell.


A chromosome is a long DNA molecule with part or all of the genetic material of an organism. Most eukaryotic chromosomes include packaging proteins called histones which, aided by chaperone proteins, bind to and condense the DNA molecule to maintain its integrity.


A small region of cytoplasm adjacent to the nucleus that contains the centrioles and serves to organize microtubules.


A linear strand of DNA and associated proteins in the nucleus of eukaryotic cells that carries the genes and functions in the transmission of hereditary information.


(cytology) An organelle, near the nucleus in the cytoplasm of most organisms, that controls the organization of its microtubules


A circular strand of DNA in bacteria and archaea that contains the hereditary information necessary for cell life.


A peculiar rounded body lying near the nucleus of a cell. It is regarded as the dynamic element by means of which the machinery of cell division is organized.


A linear arrangement of condensed DNA and associated proteins (such as chaperone proteins) which contains the genetic material (genome) of an organism.
Chromosomes store genetic information.


Small region of cytoplasm adjacent to the nucleus; contains the centrioles and serves to organize the microtubules


One of the minute bodies into which the chromatin of the nucleus is resolved during mitotic cell division; the idant of Weismann.


A threadlike body in the cell nucleus that carries the genes in a linear order

Common Curiosities

What is a centrosome?

The centrosome is a cell structure involved in organizing microtubules and facilitating cell division.

How do centrosomes function in cell division?

Centrosomes help organize the spindle fibers that separate chromosomes during cell division.

Can abnormalities in centrosomes affect health?

Yes, centrosome abnormalities can lead to improper cell division, potentially causing cancer.

How many chromosomes do humans have?

Humans have 46 chromosomes in most cells, divided into 23 pairs.

What is the significance of centrioles in centrosomes?

Centrioles help in the formation and orientation of the spindle apparatus during cell division.

How do chromosomes contribute to heredity?

Chromosomes carry genes that are passed from parents to offspring, determining hereditary traits.

What is a chromosome?

A chromosome is a structure within the cell nucleus that contains DNA, which carries genetic information.

How many centrosomes does a cell have?

Typically, a cell has one centrosome, which duplicates before cell division.

Are centrosomes present in plant cells?

No, most plant cells do not contain centrosomes; they use other structures to organize microtubules.

How are centrosomes studied?

Centrosomes are studied using techniques such as microscopy and protein analysis.

How are chromosomes mapped?

Chromosomes are mapped by identifying the location of genes and genetic markers, a process known as genetic mapping.

What happens if chromosome number or structure is abnormal?

Abnormal chromosome numbers or structures can result in genetic disorders such as Down syndrome.

Can chromosome abnormalities be detected before birth?

Yes, prenatal testing can detect chromosome abnormalities in the fetus.

What role do histones play in chromosomes?

Histones help package and organize DNA into a compact, structured form inside chromosomes.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Fiza Rafique
Fiza Rafique is a skilled content writer at, where she meticulously refines and enhances written pieces. Drawing from her vast editorial expertise, Fiza ensures clarity, accuracy, and precision in every article. Passionate about language, she continually seeks to elevate the quality of content for readers worldwide.
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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