Definition of polytene in English:


Pronunciation /ˈpäləˌtēn/ /ˈpɑləˌtin/


  • Relating to or denoting a giant chromosome which is composed of many parallel copies of the genetic material, as found in Drosophila fruit flies where they are much used in genetic research.

    ‘The structures of rearrangements were defined by mitotic chromosome staining as well as by genetic and polytene chromosome analysis.’
    • ‘Anopheline mosquitoes, like Drosophila, are renowned for the presence of polytene chromosomes and chromosomal inversions.’
    • ‘It was mapped in Drosophila by polytene chromosome in situ to 3L heterochromatin.’
    • ‘Cytogenetic studies of mitotic and polytene chromosomes, allozyme data, and crossing studies indicate that An. dirus A and C are very closely related.’
    • ‘This was first recognized more than a half century ago in cytological studies of lampbrush chromosomes in amphibian oocytes and polytene chromosomes in insects.’
    • ‘Two of those contained repetitive sequence and hybridized to the centromeres of the polytene chromosomes.’


1930s from poly-‘many’ + -tene (from Greek tainia ‘band, ribbon’) denoting stages of the first meiotic division.