Science stuff ya probably need to know - D


Right then, so DNA - Deoxyribonucleic acid. Most living cells have this stuff… it’s where your genes are at. It’s a whacking great long molecule (or molecules - depending what species you happen to be) which you’d think would be structurally dead complicated - but no, not so much, it’s basically a double helix - 2 separate strands of DNA twisted around one another. Each strand made up of a long chain of alternating phoshate and deoxyribose sugar groups which form the backbone that enclose the bases Adenine (A), Thymine (T), Cytosine (C), and Guanine (G), in the interior of the completed helix.
OK, so how DNA functions is a little more complicated - but considering the important job DNA does for life, this setup is pretty cool.

OK, so once you’ve got your DNA - there’s two main things it’s gonna do:

(1) Duplicate itself (Replication)
(2) Express the genetic info it carries (Transcription)

When ya first start learning about genetics you’ll probably run into replication before transcrition… which could leave you wondering just what, exactly, DNA does apart from getting itself replicated with a copy then being shoved into each daughter cell following cell division!

DNA is usually found in the nucleus of the cell - unless, like bacteria, you has no nucleus - then it’s in a fuzzy little structure known as a nucleoid. And it’s this type of thing that allows us to recognize two different types of cells. YAY! We have:

(1) Eukaryotes (which include animal, algal, plant, and, fungal cells)
(2) Prokaryotes (basically, just bacteria)

DNA is a very long molecule compared to the dimensions of the cell it has to squeeze inside. Fortunately though, DNA is able to coil and compact itself like you wouldn’t believe. Yes, coils on coils allow DNA to mush itself down well enough for it to fit inside.

© Willow Science 2018