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What is the difference between DNA and RNA

06-FEB-2017 17:58

    DNA is a deoxyribonucleic acid and is a hereditary material in all living organism. It is located in the nucleus of cell which is known as nuclear DNA. But small amount of DNA is also found in the mitochondria known as mtDNA or mitochondrial DNA whereas RNA is ribonucleic acid present in all living cells. It carries instructions from DNA which controls the synthesis of proteins but in some viruses RNA, instead of DNA carries the genetic information. Do you know who had reported first time nucleic acids in 1871 - Friedrich Miescher from nuclei of pus cells.

    DNA deoxyribonucleic

    Source: www.static.diffen.com

    How Genetics define the hereditary characteristics of human?

    The main difference of DNA and RNA are as follows:





    Deoxyribonucleic acid

    Ribonucleic acid


    It occurs inside the nucleus of cell and some cell organelles but it plants it is present in mitochondria and plant cell.

    It is found in cytoplasm of the cell but very little is found inside the nucleus.


    It is a double-stranded molecule consisting of a long chain of nucleotides.

    It is single-strand helix having shorter chains of nucleotides.


    It stores and transfers genetic information to generate new cells and organisms.

    It is used to transfer genetic code from nucleus to the ribosomes to make proteins and carries DNA blueprint’s guidelines.


    It has two nucleotide strands consisting of phosphate group, five carbon sugar (stable deoxyribose 2) and four nitrogen bases.

    It is single stranded consisting of phosphate group, five carbon sugar (less stable ribose) and four nitrogen base.


    Nitrogen base pairs are Adenine links to Thymine (A-T) and Cytosine links to Guanine (C-G)

    Here nitrogen base pairs are Adenine links to Uracil (A-U) and Cytosine links to Guanine (C-G).


    DNA is self replicating

    It is synthesised from DNA when needed.


    The DNA helix geometry is in the form of B and can be damaged by exposure of ultra-violet rays.

    The RNA helix geometry is in the form of A. It is more resistant to damage by ultra-violet rays.


    It is a long polymer chain.

    It is shorter polymer.


    DNA produces regular helix i.e. it is a spirally twisted.

    It produces secondary helix or pseudo helix as its stranded may get folded at places.


    It occurs in the form of chromosomes or chromatin fibres.

    It occurs in ribosomes or forms association with ribosomes.


    Quantity of DNA is fixed for cell.

    The quantity of RNA for a cell is variable.


    It is of two types: intra nuclear and extra nuclear.

    It is of four types: m-RNA, t-RNA and r-RNA.


    Life of DNA is long.

    Its life is short. Some RNA’s have very shorter life but some have longer but in all its life is short.


    After melting its renaturation is slow.


    While seeing the difference between DNA and RNA we will come to know about the structure, function, stability, nitrogenous base, their unique traits etc.

    DNA vs RNA

    World’s first stable semi-synthetic organism discovered

    DISCLAIMER: JPL and its affiliates shall have no liability for any views, thoughts and comments expressed on this article.

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