Chromosome Number Disorders


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This illustration shows nondisjunction that occurs during meiosis I. Nondisjunction during meiosis I occurs when a homologous pair fails to separate, and results in two gametes with n + 1 chromosomes, and two gametes with n  minus 1 chromosomes. Nondisjunction during meiosis I I would occur when sister chromatids fail to separate, and results in one gamete with n + 1 chromosomes, one gamete with n minus 1 chromosomes, and two normal gametes.
Nondisjunction occurs when homologous chromosomes or sister chromatids fail to separate during meiosis, resulting in an abnormal chromosome number. Nondisjunction may occur during meiosis I or meiosis II. Source: OpenStax Biology 2e

OpenStax Biology 2e

Of all of the chromosomal disorders, chromosome number abnormalities are the most obviously identifiable from a karyogram. Chromosome number disorders include duplicating or losing entire chromosomes, as well as changes in the number of complete sets of chromosomes. They are caused by nondisjunction, which occurs when homologous chromosome pairs or sister chromatids fail to separate during meiosis. Misaligned or incomplete synapsis, or a spindle apparatus dysfunction that facilitates chromosome migration, can cause nondisjunction. The risk of nondisjunction occurring increases with the parents’ age.

Nondisjunction can occur during either meiosis I or II, with differing results. If homologous chromosomes fail to separate during meiosis I, the result is two gametes that lack that particular chromosome and two gametes with two chromosome copies. If sister chromatids fail to separate during meiosis II, the result is one gamete that lacks that chromosome, two normal gametes with one chromosome copy, and one gamete with two chromosome copies.


Clark, M., Douglas, M., Choi, J. Biology 2e. Houston, Texas: OpenStax. Access for free at:

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