Chapter

Conceiving a Master Molecule

Jan Sapp

in Genesis

Published in print September 2003 | ISBN: 9780195156195
Published online September 2007 | e-ISBN: 9780199790340 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195156195.003.0016
 Conceiving a Master Molecule

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This chapter focuses on the discovery of DNA. The discovery of DNA as the basis of the gene, how it is reproduced, and how it affects protein synthesis was the pinnacle of life sciences in the 20th century. Gene splicing, recombinant DNA, transgenic organisms (or genetically modified plants and animals), and the patenting of genes from microbes to humans all have roots in fundamental discoveries in molecular biology during the 1950s and 1960s. The molecular approach to the gene involved a merger of microbiology and genetics using three techniques from physics and chemistry: (i) radioisotopes were used to help identify DNA as the basis of the gene; (ii) X-ray crystallography was used to reveal the three-dimensional structure of proteins and of DNA; and (iii) chromatography was used to analyze the composition of DNA and proteins.

Keywords: DNA; gene; molecular biology; radioisotopes; X-ray crystallography; chromatography

Chapter.  6990 words. 

Subjects: Evolutionary Biology

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