Ed Golson Outdoor Education

What is DNA?

Sometimes called an organisms "cookbook," this complex molecule contains the genetic instructions that aids in the development of all forms of life and some viruses.  What does DNA stand for? Deoxyribose nucleic acid.  This nucleic acid is in all of our cells, more specifically in the nucleus, and contains the code for our inherited traits.  During reproduction these traits are transmitted to the offspring through DNA.  

What is the structure of DNA like? 

The shape of DNA contains a pair of molecules, that are able to be broken apart, that entwine to make the shape of a double helix, or spiral staircase.  On the outside of this "staircase" in what would be the railing there is a series of sugars and phosphates which alternate every other one.  The stairs are made up of bases.  Since there are four different kinds of bases, that means that there are four kinds of nucleotides.  There names are adenine  (A), thymine (T), cytosine (C), and guanine (G).  These nucleotides are picky and pair up with only one other nucleotide.  A always pairs with T and C always pairs with G. 

DNA replication:

Cells have the capability to "unzip" the double helix into two single strands with unpaired bases all down the strand.  Bases floating around in the nucleus attach on to the unpaired bases and two new almost identical strands are now made.  Sometimes a base may get skipped or wrong base will be crammed in resulting in a mutation or mistake in DNA. 

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