What do a man, a mushroom, and an elephant have in common? A very long and simple double helix molecule makes us more similar and much more different than any other living thing. But, how does a simple molecule determine the form and function of so many different living things?
Deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA, is a nucleic acid containing the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms (with the exception of RNA viruses). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/DNA
DNA, which contains the biological instructions that make each species unique, along with the instructions it contains, is passed from adult organisms to their offspring during reproduction. http://www.genome.gov/25520880
The National Human Genome Research Institute began as the National Center for Human Genome Research (NCHGR), which was established in 1989 to carry out the role of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the International Human Genome Project (HGP). The HGP was developed in collaboration with the United States Department of Energy and begun in 1990 to map the human genome. http://www.genome.gov/
The information in DNA is stored as a code made up of four chemical bases: adenine (A), guanine (G), cytosine (C), and thymine (T). Human DNA consists of about 3 billion bases, and more than 99 percent of those bases are the same in all people. The order, or sequence, of these bases determines the information available for building and maintaining an organism, similar to the way in which letters of the alphabet appear in a certain order to form words and sentences. http://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/handbook/basics/dna
The object of the Teach DNA Project is to allow students (and teachers) to discover how and what kind of genetic information is stored in cells, how that genetic information can be modified to change the structure and function of organisms, how genetic information is encoded to be translated into protein, and more. http://teachdna.com/
Studies have shown that donor DNA in blood transfusion recipients persists for a number of days, sometimes longer, but its presence is unlikely to alter genetic tests significantly. Red blood cells, the primary component in transfusions, have no nucleus and no DNA. Transfused blood does, however, host a significant amount of DNA-containing white blood cells, or leukocytes—around a billion cells per unit (roughly one pint) of blood. So, what happens to the donor's DNA in a blood transfusion? http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=donor-blood-transfustion
On February 28, 1953, Cambridge University scientists James D. Watson and Frances H. C. Crick announce that they have determined the double-helix structure of DNA, the molecule containing human genes. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sf0YXnAFBs8