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    Throwback Thursday: Science Innovation Edition: Discovery of DNA

    On today’s Throwback Thursday, we are looking into DNA and who discovered it!

    We know that DNA is the internal make-up that provides us with our personal traits, and we know it contains genes that we inherit from our parents. But the question is, who discovered it and when was it discovered?! Let’s find out…

    Just like Rome, the world-changing discovery of DNA wasn’t built in a day. It was during the mid-1800s when Gregor Mendel discovered that traits were something we inherited, thanks to experiments carried out with his pea plants. However, the actual molecule of DNA was first identified in the 1860s by Swiss chemist Johann Friedrich Miescher. The new protein he discovered when experimenting with white blood cells was, in fact, the molecular basis of all life. Miescher was hesitant to publish his work because he lacked the skills to communicate and promote his findings, and so it took a couple more decades before his work was appreciated by the scientific community.

    It wasn’t until even later that the two discoveries were linked; experiments in 1928, 1944, and 1952 proved that it was DNA that carried our traits. From that point, the race was on! Scientists in 1952 and 1953 were able to decipher what the basic ingredients were that made up DNA (Ribose, Phosphate, and four base types), but so far no one could unlock how DNA carried genes, or even what it looked like.

    In 1953, two British scientists named James Watson and Francis Crick finally won the DNA race, as they were credited with the discovery of the double helix we are familiar with today. The pair were biochemical modelling experts without the use of modern computers (of course), so they performed precise mathematical calculations and used 3D model kits to develop their hypothesis. Once this was done, they were able to verify their model by using X-ray images of real DNA, which were published by fellow scientist Rosalind Franklin. Further research with Franklin’s X-ray images helped to confirm and uncover more about the unique structure and behaviour of the DNA double helix.

    Got any questions? Get in touch with Goodfellow today or visit our website here.

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