The distance between two locations on a DNA molecule can be expressed as the number of base pairs between them. Although base pairs are actually physical objects being counted, the term is treated as if it were a unit, and is abbreviated in an unusual fashion. For small numbers of pairs the symbol is “bp”, but the symbol for thousands of base pairs is “kb” (not “kp”), and for millions of base pairs “Mb”.
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Last revised: 8 April 2007.