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The Discovery of DNA and the impact on understanding of basic genetics

How could anyone contest that the discovery of the model of DNA we have today has impacted on genetics? It has created so many links between different ideas in basic genetic understanding. Without it there would still be a massive gap in our genetic knowledge. The complete double-helix model of DNA, discovered by Francis Crick and James Watson, has helped scientists to do some of the most mesmerizing things with the scientific knowledge we have now received from this discovery. Today we understand DNA as something like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.1 It is the coding for who we are. But how exactly did it impact on our basic understanding of genetics? The discovery of the complete model of DNA filled in many links in our understanding of genetics, providing scientific explanations for countless unresolved questions. In 1886, almost a century before Watson and Crick were awarded their Nobel Prize, Friedrich Miescher, a Swiss physician, was one of the first to look deeper into the molecular structure of cells. He determined that nuclein was made up of hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and phosphorus and there was an unique ratio of phosphorus to nitrogen.2 Two years later, a Czech Monk, Gregor Mendel, had closely been looking at the discovery of peas and their inheritance of certain traits. He did this by cross -pollinating the common pea plant. Through the selective cross-breeding of common pea plants (Pisum sativum) over many generations, Mendel discovered that certain traits show up in offspring without any blending of parent characteristics. 3 His discoveries developed the idea of the recessive and dominant gene and the inheritance of genes from parents to offspring. But what exactly did any of this have to do with the discovery of DNA? Well DNA was the missing link between these two discoveries. There was an understanding of inheritance of genes and the idea of nuclein acids in cells but there was no picture on where the information was kept, how the body knew and maintained certain genetic characteristics, or how these characteristics were passed down, which is what the discovery of DNA provided us. "It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material" wrote Watson and Crick in the scientific paper that was published in Nature, April 25, 1953.4

2013, Bill Gates, The Road Ahead, Goodreads Inc. accessed March 10 2013 http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/336336-dna-is-like-a-computer-programbut-far-far-more 2 DNA Learning Centre, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory 2012, DNA and proteins are the key are the molecules of the cell nucleus, accessed 10 March 2013 http://www.dnaftb.org/15/bio.html 3 ONeil, D 2012, Mendels Genetics accessed March 10 2013 http://anthro.palomar.edu/mendel/mendel_1.htm 4 2013 The Discovery of the Molecular Structure of DNA the Double Helix Nobel Prize.org, accessed 9 March 2013
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The Discovery of DNA and the impact on understanding of basic genetics

Not only did the discovery of DNA tell us where genes were kept, and how they were maintained and copied, but what their sole function was. With the discovery of DNA, we were able to look further into molecular biology and develop our knowledge on what genes actually do. With the double strand model of DNA it opened new doors to the idea of amino acids and nitrogen bases. The discovery of DNA taught us that amino acids are decided on, based on sequences containing sets of three nitrogen bases (either A, T, C or G), called codons. Crick argued that genes appeared to control the orderly assembly of amino acids, as basic building blocks, into proteins.5 In other words, genes were given the role of developing different proteins in the cell, with specific orders and codes. It was also found that in these genetic patterns describing a protein, there are also stop and start codons to separate one gene from another. This means that genes are actually read by proteins. All of this obtained knowledge is highly important information, as proteins are one of the fundamental building blocks of an organism. The discovery of DNA has impacted our basic understanding of genetics in many ways. It helped to bridge certain gaps in scientific understanding and it gave us the knowledge of the actual role of genes. Watson and Crick gave us the exact model of DNA and the actual understanding and reasoning behind the gene; they discovered the secret of life. 6

http://www.nobelprize.org/educational/medicine/dna_double_helix/readmore. html?referer=www.clickfind.com.au 5Dr. Mendible, J, 2013, the Impact of the Discovery of DNA, The Science Advisory Board, accessed 11th March 2013 http://www.scienceboard.net/community/perspectives.59.html 6 2013, Brainy Quote accessed March 11th 2013 http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/f/franciscri143181.html

The Discovery of DNA and the impact on understanding of basic genetics

Bibliography 2013, Bill Gates, The Road Ahead, Goodreads Inc. accessed March 10 2013 http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/336336-dna-is-like-a-computer-programbut-far-far-more DNA Learning Centre, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory 2012, DNA and proteins are the key are the molecules of the cell nucleus, accessed 10 March 2013 http://www.dnaftb.org/15/bio.html ONeil, D 2012, Mendels Genetics accessed March 10 2013 http://anthro.palomar.edu/mendel/mendel_1.htm 2013 The Discovery of the Molecular Structure of DNA the Double Helix Nobel Prize.org, accessed 9 March 2013 http://www.nobelprize.org/educational/medicine/dna_double_helix/readmore. html?referer=www.clickfind.com.au Dr. Mendible, J, 2013, the Impact of the Discovery of DNA, The Science Advisory Board, accessed 11th March 2013 http://www.scienceboard.net/community/perspectives.59.html 2013, Brainy Quote accessed March 11th 2013 http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/f/franciscri143181.html Rickard G, 2009, Science Focus 4, Pearson Australia, Melbourne