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Can we safely use the terms DNA and Genome interchangeably or is there any (even slight) difference between the two?

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    $\begingroup$ note that epigenetic aspects are essential to body plan embryo morphology yet are not considered part of the Genome, due in part to current limitations of DNA sequencing $\endgroup$ – Scott Stensland Jan 28 '16 at 15:35
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    $\begingroup$ @ScottStensland I learnt the meaning of your comment now after attending Epigenetics course. Thanks Scott! $\endgroup$ – Failed Scientist Apr 30 '16 at 11:35
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Oversimplifying:

  • DNA is a specific form of molecule (desoxyribonucleic acid).

  • Genome is the information of a specific organism stored on its DNA. (Not just his genes, i.e. the information in the coding parts of his chromosomes, but the whole of it.)

With just a little bit of scientific handwaving, you could conceivably synthesise DNA molecules that are just random sequences of ATCG. It wouldn't be the genome of anything.

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  • $\begingroup$ I'd add that retroviruses have a genome not encoded by DNA, but RNA; and PCR primers are DNA not encoding a genome. $\endgroup$ – Alexlok Apr 14 '18 at 9:33
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DNA is any piece of DNA. Genome is a very specific piece (or pieces) of DNA: all of the DNA contained inside one cell, or organelle, or virus particle, from a specific species.

For a species with a single chromosome, like the bacterium, E. coli, then the bacterial genome is equivalent to the cell's chromosome. Same for a virus. For a metazoan, like C. elegans, which has six chromosomes, the nuclear genome is one copy of all the chromosomes and the mitochondrial genome is one copy of the mitochondrial chromosome.

So DNA is a general term, while genome is a specific term that can be used most clearly with a modifier to specify the species you are referring to (e.g., the human genome, or the duckbill platypus genome, etc.).

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