25 Facts You Might Not Know About DNA

DNA is a long molecule that contains our unique genetic code and thus the instructions an organism needs to develop, live, and reproduce. Just like a recipe book, it holds the directions for making all the proteins in our bodies. This information is found in every cell and is passed down from parents to their children. DNA has become particularly popular during the past few decades thanks to its broad usage and utility. Genetic tests are used for a variety of reasons nowadays, including to show if there’s a relation between a parent and a child, diagnose genetic disorders, to determine whether a person is a carrier of a mutation that they could pass on to their children, and to identify whether a person is at risk for a certain disease. For the aforementioned reasons, it has been argued that the discovery of DNA as well as our understanding of its structure and function may well be the most significant discovery of the twentieth century. The effect of the discovery of DNA on scientific and medical progress has been enormous! See for yourself as we explore these 25 Facts You Might Not Know About DNA.

If you like these DNA facts, you might enjoy our list on 25 Rare Medical Conditions You Probably Never Heard Of.

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25

DNA is found in all living things and stands for deoxyribonucleic acid.

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24

We have all heard about paternity tests which confirm the relationship between a child and his or her potential father, or how a criminal can be identified via a DNA test (if investigators found blood, sperm, or hair at the crime scene), but DNA testing is also used to authenticate food such as caviar and fine wine.

Source: DNA: The Secret of Life (Book), Image: commons.wikimedia.orgSource: DNA: The Secret of Life (Book), Image: commons.wikimedia.org
23

DNA is used in wildlife forensics to identify endangered species and the people who hunt them (poachers).

Source: DNA: The Secret of Life (Book), Image: flickr.com, Photo by Wildlife Forensics LabSource: DNA: The Secret of Life (Book), Image: flickr.com, Photo by Wildlife Forensics Lab
22

In forensics, DNA analysis usually looks at thirteen specific DNA markers (segments of DNA). The odds that two individuals will have the same thirteen-loci DNA profile is about one in a billion.

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21

DNA can be extracted from many different types of samples: blood, cheek cells and even urine.

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20

DNA tests can help you understand your risk of disease. For example, a DNA mutation or variation may be associated with a higher risk of a number of diseases, including breast cancer.

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19

DNA is affected by the environment; environmental factors can turn genes on and off. This pretty much explains why, for example, some people are darker or hairier than others.

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18

Changes in a DNA sequence are called mutations. Yes, Wolverine and your fellow mutants, we’re talking about you!

Source: DNA: The Secret of Life (Book), Image: commons.wikimedia.orgSource: DNA: The Secret of Life (Book), Image: commons.wikimedia.org
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However, mutations can be changes in just one DNA base or they can involve more than one. Mutations can also involve entire segments of chromosomes.

Source: DNA: The Secret of Life (Book), Image: commons.wikimedia.orgSource: DNA: The Secret of Life (Book), Image: commons.wikimedia.org
16

All joking aside, many things can cause mutations, including UV irradiation from the sun, chemicals such as drugs, and so on.

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15

If all the DNA in your body was laid end to end, it would reach to the sun and back over six hundred times (one hundred trillion multiplied by six feet divided by ninety-two million miles).

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14

If you unwrap all the DNA you have in your cells, you could reach the moon six thousand times!

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13

Genes are pieces of DNA passed from parent to offspring that contain hereditary information.

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12

Our entire DNA sequence is called a genome. Additionally, our entire DNA sequence would fill two hundred one-thousand-page New York City telephone directories.

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11

Many countries, including the United States and the UK, maintain a DNA database of convicted criminals.

Source: DNA: The Secret of Life (Book), Image: commons.wikimedia.orgSource: DNA: The Secret of Life (Book), Image: commons.wikimedia.org
10

Dolly the cloned sheep had the same nuclear DNA as its donor mom but its mitochondrial DNA came from the egg mom. Hmmm, I know what you’re thinking; it makes no sense the way it sounds but trust us—it makes sense to the scientists.

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9

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is found in the mitochondria and is passed only from mother to child because only eggs have mitochondria, not sperm.

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8

Almost all the cells in our body have DNA, the exception being red blood cells.

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7

It is estimated that if you could type sixty words per minute, eight hours a day, it would take approximately fifty years to type the human genome.

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6

Every human being shares 99 percent of their DNA with every other human, but a parent with its child shares 99.5 percent of the same DNA.

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5

Even though it codes for all the information that makes up an organism, DNA is built using only four building blocks: the nucleotides adenine, guanine, thymine, and cytosine.

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4

Most of the DNA resides not in the cell nuclei, which control heredity, but in our mitochondria, the organelles (units within cells) that generate metabolic energy.

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3

A DNA fingerprint is a set of DNA markers that is unique to each individual except identical twins, since identical twins share 100 percent of their genes.

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2

Contrary to popular belief, James Watson and Francis Crick did not discover DNA. That honor goes to Swiss biochemist Friedrich Miescher, who found the molecule in the nuclei of white blood cells in 1869 and called it nuclein.

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1

For the record, Watson and Crick didn’t figure out that DNA is our genetic blueprint either; bacteriologist Oswald Avery and his colleagues did that in the early 1940s. What Watson and Crick actually did was decipher the double-helix structure of DNA in 1953.

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