What is the difference between DNA and RNA?

DNA is a deoxyribonucleic acid and a hereditary substance in all organisms whereas RNA is present in all living cells like ribonucleic acid. In this article, we will study about the difference between DNA and RNA, how they work and what they look like.


DNA is a deoxyribonucleic acid and is a hereditary substance in all organisms. It is located in the nucleus of the cell called nuclear DNA. But some amount of DNA is also found in mitochondria which is known as mtDNA or mitochondrial DNA, whereas RNA is present in all living cells like ribonucleic acid. It takes instructions from DNA that controls the synthesis of proteins, but some viruses carry genetic information, instead of DNA, in RNA. Do you know who first reported nucleic acids in 1871 – Friedrich Miescher from the nucleus of pus cells.

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The main difference between DNA and RNA is as follows:

serial number




deoxyribonucleic acid

ribonucleic acid


It occurs inside the nucleus of the cell and some cell organelles, but is present in the mitochondria of plants and their cells.

It is found in the cytoplasm of the cell but is rarely found inside its nucleus.


It is a two-stranded molecule consisting of a long chain of nucleotides.

It is a single-strand helix containing short chains of nucleotides.


It stores and transfers genetic information to generate new cells and organisms.

It is used to carry the genetic code from the nucleus to the ribosome to make proteins and to carry the guidelines for the DNA blueprint.


It has two nucleotide varieties with a phosphate group, a five-carbon sugar (stable deoxyribose 2) and four nitrogenous bases.

It is a lone with a phosphate group, a five-carbon sugar (the less stable ribose) and four nitrogenous bases.


Nitrogen base pairs Adenine, Thymine (AT) and Cytosine are associated with Guanine (CG)

Here the nitrogenous base pairs adenine, uracil (AU) and cytosine are associated with guanine (CG).


DNA is self replication

It is synthesized from DNA when needed


The DNA helix geometry is in the form of B and can be damaged by exposure to ultraviolet rays.

The RNA helix geometry is as in a. More resistant to damage by ultra violet rays.


it is a long polymer chain

it’s a small polymer


DNA generates a regular helix i.e. it is twisted into a curved form.

This produces the secondary helix or pseudo-helix as may be bent in some places.


It occurs in the form of chromosomes or chromatin fibres.

It occurs in the ribosome or its forms or types are associated with the ribosome.


The amount of DNA is fixed for the cell.

The amount of RNA for the cell can change.


It is of two types: inter atom and extra atom.

It is of four types: m-RNA, t-RNA and r-RNA


DNA has a long life.

It has a short life. Some RNAs have very short lives, but some are long but short throughout their lives.


After it melts, regeneration is slow.


By looking at the difference between DNA and RNA, we will come to know about the structure, function, stability, nitrogen base, their unique characteristics etc.

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