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In a karyogram I see X and Y co-ordinates being mentioned. What do these mean?


A karyotype is the complete set of all chromosomes of a cell. A karyogram is a picture of the chromosomes arranged and displayed (often on a photo) in a standard format: in pairs, ordered by size.

Karyotypes are examined in searches for chromosomal aberrations, and may be used to determine other macroscopically visible aspects of an individuals genotype, such as sex (XX vs. XY pair). The co-ordinates of which you speak are the male (XY) and female (XX) chromosomes that are used when referencing particular aspects of a chromosome. The chromosomes have a short and long arm, designated p and q. A type of short hand notation is used to describe genetic problems associated with chromosomes. For instance, if the short arm of chromosome 6 was missing, it would be written 46,XX,6p-. This translates to human (the 46 part representing the 46 chromosomes of humans), XX for female, and 6p- for the short arm of chromosome missing.