Monday, 29 August 2016

Facts about DNA that will leave you amazed

Deoxyribonucleic acid, commonly known as DNA that we all are aware of as we all might have heard about DNA test, but actually what is DNA? DNA is a molecule that carries the genetic information that is used in growth, development and reproduction of all organisms. Even though it codes for all the information that makes up an organism, DNA is built using only four building blocks, the nucleotide- adenine, guanine, thymine, and cytosine. Plus if you could type 60 words per minute, eight hours a day; it would take approximately 50 years to type the human genome.

DNA is a highly condensed molecule that is present is in every cell of our body and our body contains numerous cells. If unwound and linked together, the strands of DNA in each cell would be 6 feet long. With 100 trillion cells in your body, this means that the total DNA in your body could make hundreds of round trips to the sun and back. Another amazing fact about DNA that we’re all 99.9 percent alike and yet the 0.1% difference is also because of our DNA.

And we all know that we are the ancestors of the chimpanzee but how? It is because of our DNA that we share 98% common strands of DNA with chimpanzees. Scientists at Cambridge University believe humans have DNA in common with the mud worm and that it is the closest invertebrate genetic relative to us. In other words, you have more in common, genetically speaking, with a mud worm than you do with a spider or octopus or cockroach. And humans and cabbage also share about 40-50% common DNA. There were also some ancient viruses that used to infect humans but today, 8% of human DNA is actually made of those ancient viruses! Human DNA is 50% identical to the DNA of bananas! You read it correctly! We said BANANAS! So if all of this counted our DNA is a mixture of the DNA of chimpanzee’s, mud worm, cabbage, ancient viruses, and also bananas.

The weirdest fact of DNA is that studies of kissing have shown that women are more attracted to the scent of a man with a different genetic code than her own. A difference in DNA increases the chance for healthy children. So, what you perceive as chemistry may, in fact, be DNA! Friedrich Miescher discovered DNA in 1869, although scientists did not understand DNA was the genetic material in cells until 1943. Prior to that time, it was widely believed that proteins stored genetic information.

DNA is a fragile molecule. About a thousand times a day, something happens to it to cause errors. This could include errors during transcription, damage from ultraviolet light, or any of a host of other activities. There are many repair mechanisms, but some damage isn't repaired. This means you carry mutations! Some of the mutations cause no harm; a few are helpful, while others can cause diseases, such as cancer. Thus DNA plays a very important part of our body and controls all our actions.

Written by Kajal Dahiya
She is a content writing intern at ReviewMantra who believes there are no shortcuts in evolution.

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