Differences Between Mitochondrial DNA and Nuclear DNA

When you hear the word DNA you think everything is the same and nothing will change, but you know there are some minor or sometimes even major differences we forget to notice. When we ignore these minor/major difference the scientist or biologist play their role in this.

Here is exactly what I'm going to tell you. We will now be knowing about the basic difference that nuclear DNA and mitochondrial DNA have like the shape, size, where it is found, etc.

Difference between mitochondrial DNA and nuclear DNA:

Nuclear DNA Mitochondrial DNA
1. Nuclear DNA is found inside the nucleus of the cell Mitochondrial DNA is found only in the mitochondria
2. Nuclear DNA is linear in shape Mitochondrial DNA is circular in shape
3. Nuclear DNA is longer Mitochondrial DNA is shorter
4. Nuclear DNA is obatained from both the parents Mitochondrial DNA is obtained only from the mother parent
5. Nuclear DNA has 46 chromosomes Mitochondrial DNA has only one chromosome
6. Nuclear DNA consist of 20,000 to 25,000 genes Mitochondrial DNA consist of only 37 genes
7. Nuclear DNA is responsible for the genetic makeup Mitochondrial DNA is responsible for metabolic activities
8. Nuclear DNA is covered by a membrane Mitochondrial DNA is not covered by a membrane
9. Nuclear DNA is made up of 3.3 billion DNA base pairs The size of mitochondrial DNA in humans is 16,569 DNA base pairs
10. Nuclear DNA only contains the copies of the nuclear genome Mitochondrial DNA contains several copies
11. Nuclear DNA shows universal codon pattern Mitochondrial DNA does not show universal codon pattern

What is mitochondrial DNA ?

The mitochondrial DNA is a part of the mitochondria, cellular organelles and eukaryotic cells. You can also say that it is located there. It is also known as mtDNA or mDNA. The mitochondrial DNA helps in metabolic activities like converting chemical energy from the food we eat into cells that use ATP and eliminates nitrogenous waste (if you want to know about modes of nitrogenous waste click here). 


The mitochondrial DNA has a small circular shape and is found inside the mitochondria. The cellular organelles are said to be the powerhouse of the cell. These do not show universal codon pattern. 

 Mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA

Importance of mitochondrial DNA:

The mitochondrial DNA plays an important role in converting energy from the food we eat, but that's not it. The mitochondrial DNA has many more important functions which it does for us.

It controls regulation in cellular metabolism (that is conversion of energy), apoptosis (where biochemical events lead to a cell's death) and oxidative stress control (when there is an imbalance in the free radicals of a muscle and antioxidants present there).

It also has some special features like high copies of number in the cells, maternal inheritance (cytoplasms or many diseases obtained form the mother) and high mutation rates (if you want to know about the gene and mutations click here).

What is nuclear DNA ?

Every eukaryotic organism contains cell nucleus and within that cell nucleus nuclear DNA is present and this is known as the molecule of life. It is also called as nuclear deoxyribonucleic acid. This encodes for majority of genomes and this shows universal codon pattern. These are linear in shape meaning they are in a straight shape extending downwards. 

 Nuclear DNA
Nuclear DNA

Importance of nuclear DNA:

It is important for our genetic makeup because it contains all the genetic instructions which are required for our development. This is found in every cell present in our body except for RBC's (Red Blood Cells). It also helps in creating different genetic blueprint for each individual. 

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