Difference Between Gene and Genome

Genetics is the branch of biology that studies the genes and the mechanisms that regulate the transmission of hereditary characters in living beings. In this branch, the use of the terms gene and genome is very frequent to refer to the set of genetic information storage units and their functions, which have their own characteristics that differentiate them from each other.

In this article we present the definitions of gene and genome and then go on to point out the differences that exist between both terms.


A gene is defined as the molecular unit that characterizes heredity in a living organism. These possess the information to build and maintain the cells of an organism and pass genetic traits to offspring. This means that they are elements that determine the hereditary characteristics that will be transmitted from parents to their children through reproduction.

Genes are associated with Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) molecules, which is the main genetic material found in all living organisms and are made up of specific segments or portions of DNA. These are able to control the specific characteristics of heredity. In the reproductive process, children acquire genes from both parents which are responsible for controlling and defining certain physical and functional characteristics in a living organism.

In short, it can be said that a gene is a portion of DNA that defines certain traits or characteristics in an individual and that they come from their parents.


Genome can be defined as the total genetic information possessed by a particular organism. The genome differs from one organism to another, this means that all individuals of the same species have the same type of genome that defines the same characteristics, but these characteristics vary, which generates physical and genetic differences in individuals.

The genome is encoded in DNA molecules but in the case of some organisms that only have RNA (ribonucleic acid), the genome is the amount of RNA contained in their cells. Thus, the genome comprises both total DNA and RNA.

Additionally, the genome can be nuclear (total DNA content in the nucleus of the cell) or mitochondrial genome (total DNA content in the mitochondria). The human genome is made up of a total of between 20,000 and 25,000 genes contained in 23 chromosomes.

In short, it can be said that the genome is the total of genes contained in the chromosomes of living beings.

From the above, the following differences between gene and genome are deduced:

gene genome
Genes are segments of DNA contained in chromosomes. The genome is the total content of genes in the cell.
Genes are studied by genetics. The genome is studied by genomics.
An individual has multiple genes. An individual has only one genome.

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