DNA is the building blocks for life. But how much do you know about DNA? Test your knowledge and impress your family and friends with these 10 fascinating facts.
- DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid.
- DNA is a long thin molecule made up of nucleotides. There are 4 different types of nucleotides - these are adenine, thymine, cytosine, and guanine, and each is represented by their first letter - A, T, C, G. Nucleotides are sometimes called bases. Although there are only 4 letters, DNA molecules are thousands of letters long, allowing for billions of different combinations.
- DNA is like a recipe that holds the instructions for telling our bodies how to develop and function. DNA code is held by the nucleotide letters and the different letters represent different
- Every 3 nucleotide letters form a codon. An example of a string of codons is ATC TGA GGA AAT GAC CAG ATG GCA. These are strung together to make a DNA sequence called a gene.
- Within each DNA string are sets of instructions called genes. A gene tells a cell how to make a specific protein. Proteins are used by the cell to perform a certain function and give the cell a specific job.
- DNA is in the shape of a double helix and looks like a twisted ladder. The rungs of the ladder are the A, T, C, G nucleotide bases that are locked together in pairs by hydrogen bonds, but only certain sets of nucleotides can fit together - A only connects to T and G only connects with C. The nucleotides are held together by a backbone made of phosphate and deoxyribose. The human genome contains 3 billion base pairs of DNA.
- In 2001, scientists made a map of all the genes that make a person - this complete DNA sequence is known as the human genome. About 99.9% of DNA of every person on the planet is the same - it’s the 0.1% that makes us unique.
- You have 96% of your DNA in common with a chimpanzee, 90% with a cat, 85% with a mouse, 80% with a cow, 60% with a chicken, and 60% with a banana.
- DNA was first isolated and identified by Swiss biologist Freidrich Meischer in 1869. The double helix structure of DNA was discovered by James Watson and Francis Crick in 1953.
- If you unravelled all DNA molecules in your body and placed them end to end it would stretch over 110 billion miles and be able to stretch to the Sun and back over 600 times.
Want to learn more about DNA and biology? For more science, more amazing facts, and more fun, enrol now in our holiday camps and science classes where kids can learn, experiment, explore, and play!