During mitosis, the 23 pairs of human chromosomes condense and are visible with a light microscope. A karyotype analysis usually involves blocking cells in mitosis and staining the condensed chromosomes with Giemsa dye. The dye stains regions of chromosomes that are rich in the base pairs Adenine (A) and Thymine (T) producing a dark band. A common misconception is that bands represent single genes, but in fact the thinnest bands contain over a million base pairs and potentially hundreds of genes. For example, the size of one small band is about equal to the entire genetic information for one bacterium.
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