I got the question in my exam and wrote the following and I do not understand what is wrong in it:

Giemsa staining is a staining method to stain particularly malaria and other parasital diseases. G-bands occur because Giemsa stain consists of A,T rich material i.e. poor gene such that dark and white bands occur. Each chromosome has an unique reaction to Giemsa staining so G-bands occur.

0 points. I do not understand what's wrong with it, since in their comments about the same question in my first exam they wrote also the extra questions: What are G-bands? How are they formed and why? This time I answered the given things and got zero mark.

Probably, the mistake was that I did not answer to the question in the scope of medical Biology in some way. However, I am not exactly sure what it is exactly.

How would you answer to the question when you know that the course was about medical biology?

Please, add the tag Giemsa.

  • $\begingroup$ Giemsa is too specific for its use as a tag. Staining and Histology are enough. Maybe Karyotype? $\endgroup$
    – Aleadam
    Dec 22 '11 at 21:03
  • $\begingroup$ I suggest you explain downvote. $\endgroup$
    – Poshpaws
    Dec 23 '11 at 17:45

Giemsa is not a particular methid to stain malaria or any other parasite. It stains DNA. As such, it can be used to stain any DNA-containing organism, or, in other words, any known cell.

Regarding its particular use in chromosomal banding, you can refer to many online resources, such as this one of the University of Washington:

Chromosomes in metaphase can be identified using certain staining techniques, so called banding


G-bands are most commonly used. They take their name from the Giemsa dye, but can be produced with other dyes. In G-bands, the dark regions tend to be heterochromatic, late-replicating and AT rich. The bright regions tend to be euchromatic, early-replicating and GC rich.

  • $\begingroup$ Very well written. - - My attempt of a summary: Staining reveals structural features of the chromosomes in metaphase by banding. Giemsa staining offers better resolution of individual bands of chromosomes along the length of the whole chromosome. It stains DNA to heterochromatic (dark) and euchromatic (white) regions resulting into G-bands, called so because of the dye Giemsa, used in staining historically first, but can be stained also with other dyes. It stains any DNA-containing organism, or, in other words, any known cell. Analysis involves the karyotyping of banded metaphase chromosomes. $\endgroup$ Dec 22 '11 at 23:34
  • $\begingroup$ Is there any other staining methods for other phases than metaphase of chromosomes? - Is it useful to stain unreplicated daughter chromosomes after metaphase? It is probably harder to do it, since the daughter chromosomes are not in a line, than in staining during metaphase. $\endgroup$ Dec 22 '11 at 23:48
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Masi in any other phase of the cell cycle, the DNA is much less condensed (called chromatin) and basically all DNA is intermingled, rendering a much more homogeneous staining. You still see regions of condensed chromatin, but it's impossible to identify individual chromosomes. You may do some (very limited) in situ hibridization, but again it's much more informative when cells are in metaphase. $\endgroup$
    – Aleadam
    Dec 23 '11 at 4:13
  • $\begingroup$ I need one clarification. Does Giemsa staining of chromosomes stain the DNA and proteins i.e. whole chromosomes? Or does it stain only DNA, not proteins? $\endgroup$ Jan 27 '12 at 15:55
  • $\begingroup$ It seems that Giemsa staining specifically stains DNA. Sometimes it seems that some proteins are staining but the purpose is not to stain them. $\endgroup$ Jan 30 '12 at 17:24

Probably they want something like from here:

For differentiate nuclear and/or cytoplasmic morphology of platelets, RBCs, WBCs and parasites. In wright- and Giemsa-stain: the cytoplasm appears blue and the nucleus is relatively large, eccentrically located and red. The distinct, rod-shaped, red-staining kinetoplast (a specialized mitochondrial structure) contains extranuclear DNA arranged as catenated minicircles and maxicircles.

In my opinion, the question is not exact if they want the above thing. It should have been: What is the Giemsa staining of chromosomes morphologically? if the above thing correct.

It was the first medical biology course so answer should be from it.


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