Are textbook depictions of our chromosomes accurate?

In probably every textbook illustration you can find on human chromosome structure, there is always the same recurring theme: They are depicted as simple, linear strands of DNA wound up much like garden hoses or balls of twine.  However, you can also wind up a rubber band in much the same manner. But rubber bands are not linear, they are circular. What you will find in this blog flies in the face of the conventional, widely accepted linear DNA model… and the implications are far reaching (see amazing photomicrographs). One of these 20 year old images won an honorable mention in the highly competitive 2011 Olympus Bioscapes competition.


About frankabernathy

I am a retired cell biologist and alumnus of Ohio State University. I became interested in chromosomes as far back as the 1960's when I wrote a term paper on the effects of radiomimetic drugs on chromosomes. I was fascinated at how they could break apart and reform new structures so easily. I became further involved in the early 1970's after taking a cytogenetics course at the University of Arkansas. I took that knowledge with me to Ohio State in 1980 where I eventually worked on my research and completed my Ph.D. dissertation, "Studies on Eukaryotic DNA Superstructure". My studies and later research suggested that the DNA within the eukaryotic chromosome is not the simple, linear molecular thread so widely suggested in all the classic textbooks published today. Instead, it may be the culmination of a geologically rapid set of endosymbiotic events where microorganisms plug into each other to create something greater than themselves. Feel free to contact me at
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