Autosomes: Definition & Concept

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Exocytosis: Definition & Examples

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 Autosomes
  • 0:45 How Many Autosomes Do…
  • 2:15 What Do Human Autosomes Do?
  • 3:00 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Angela Lynn Swafford

Lynn has a BS and MS in biology and has taught many college biology courses.

An autosome is any chromosome that is not a sex-determining chromosome, so most chromosomes are autosomes. You can learn more about human autosomes in this lesson.

Autosomes

You have probably heard the term chromosome before, but do you know what it actually is? Chromosomes are made of DNA and contain genes or units of heredity. In some organisms, like bacteria, chromosomes have a circular shape. However, in most organisms that have a nucleus in their cells (this includes you), chromosomes are straight or linear.

Many animals, including humans, have two types of chromosomes: autosomes and sex chromosomes. Sex chromosomes are those that are needed for determining sex (male or female) of an individual. Autosomes are all the rest of the chromosomes that are not needed for sex determination. For the rest of this lesson, we will focus on autosomes.

How Many Autosomes Do Humans Have?

Humans have a total of 46 chromosomes in each body cell; 44 of these are autosomes. You get one set of 22 autosomes from your mom and another set of 22 from your dad. It is often easier to think about our autosomes in pairs because even though we have 44 autosomes, we actually only have 22 types. We have two copies of each type of autosome, one from each parent. Homologous chromosomes are two chromosomes of the same type, which are the same size and shape and have the same genes.

A picture or karyogram of all human chromosomes showing what each chromosome looks like. The autosomes are inside the red box and are labeled with numbers. The sex chromosomes are outside of the red box and given the letters X and Y. This karyogram is from a male because males have one X and one Y, while females have two X chromosomes.
Human Male Karyogram

Our paired autosomes are numbered 1 through 22. They are numbered according to size so that chromosome 1 is the longest, and chromosome 22 is the shortest. A picture called a karyogram is often used to look at our chromosomes. In a karyogram, homologous chromosomes are placed next to each other. For example, both copies of chromosome 1 are put side by side. Remember that you get one copy of each type of autosome from each of your parents.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Free 5-day trial

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 160 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create an account
Support