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noun, plural: karyotypes

(genetics) The characterization of the chromosome complement of a species (such as the shape, type, number, etc. of chromosomes)


To arrange and classify the chromosome complement of an organism based on the number, size, shape, and other characteristics of the chromosomes


The karyotype is a profile or characterization of the chromosome of an individual organism. Karyotyping is the process by which the karyotype is prepared. It makes use of the cells arrested in the metaphase stage (which is done by applying colchicine solution). It is because the chromosomes are thick at this stage and therefore they can be easily observed under a microscope after staining. The karyotype of an organism is then displayed as photomicrographs. The chromosomes are arranged in the standard format (karyogram), i.e. in homologous pairs, descending order of size, and relative position of the centromere. Karyotyping is one of the major tools in cytogenetics and the study of the entire sets of chromosomes is referred to as karyology. Karyotype is important in the study of chromosomal aberrations, cellular functions, and relationships in terms of evolution and taxonomy. In humans, the typical karyotype is comprised of 46 chromosomes.

Word origin: Greek karyon ("kernel", "seed") + typos ("general form")

See also:

Related form(s):

  • karyotypical (adjective)
  • karyotyping (verb: present participle)
  • karyotyped (verb: simple past)