20 Things You Didn't Know About DNA (You Know You Want to Know!)

It’s just another geeky Monday, but I still wish it were Sunday! (Or Saturday for that matter. The weekend just swooshed by without me realizing it.) At least reading material abounds online which makes up for Mondays. Take this article title “20 Things You Didn’t Know About DNA” from Discover Magazine. ((Source))

Now, not everyone would go around parading their interest in DNA and stuff like that, would they? This list is then the best thing to come along since – well, name whatever you think the best thing is. You can now have all your DNA questions answered without having to actually ask them! Instead of listing down all the facts (you can go to the original article for that), let’s do this a little differently.

Who discovered DNA?

The most common answer would be James Watson and Francis Crick, perhaps, but go to a geek trivia event and you’ll probably hear the correct answer: Friedrich Miescher. He was a Swiss physician and biologist. “He isolated various phosphate-rich chemicals, which he called nuclein (now nucleic acids), from the nuclei of white blood cells in 1869 at Felix Hoppe-Seyler’s laboratory at the University of Tübingen, Germany, paving the way for the identification of DNA as the carrier of inheritance.” ((Wikipedia))

So what about Watson and Crick? They were responsible for deciphering the double-helix structure of DNA in 1953.

Got your facts straight now?

Just how much DNA do we have in our body?

This question didn’t even occur to me until I read the answer – if uncoiled, the DNA in all our cells would go 10 billion miles. That’s from Earth to Pluto – and back.

Humans have the longest genome, right?

Wrong! Compared to the Paris japonica, a flowering plant native to Japan, the human genome is pitiful. The plant’s genome has almost 150 billion base pairs – 50 times more than ours.

Other interesting facts about DNA

Here are some more snippets of trivia which you can spew out the next time you have a conversation with friends. Alternatively, you can make an ingenious Facebook status out of them.

  • Telomeres, sequences of DNA at the tips of chromosomes, get shorter every time a cell divides; when they get too short, the cell dies. Some scientists are trying to extend life by extending the telomere.
  • Bad news if you’re a mouse: Scientists at Osaka University recently developed mice that are especially susceptible to DNA copying errors, seeking to increase the rate of mutations and see what new traits appear. – I say good news if one of your dreams is to become a mutant. Then again, it may not happen in your lifetime since the results are so far limited to short-legged mice, mice with fewer toes than normal, and mice that chirp like songbirds.
  • Remember that “worm” at the bottom of a tequila bottle? Scientists at the University of Guelph in Ontario showed that DNA from the worm (actually an agave butterfly caterpillar) traditionally placed in bottles of mescal leaches into the liquor. – Uggh.

For more DNA facts that you might not know (and would like to know, even if you don’t know/want to admit it yet), read the article in its entirety.

Photo via Cruel Queen

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