Type: Research Essays
Sample donated: Hope Carpenter
Last updated: August 27, 2019
DNA is genetic material, and for humans it’s what makes everyone in the world different from one another.
Many people have a misunderstanding of who discovered DNA. The answer isn’t as easy as saying a name. Technically, a chemist named Johannes Friedrich Miescher was the first person to discover DNA. He first noticed it while he was experimenting to find out exactly what makes up white blood cells. When he noticed that he didn’t know what the substance he saw was he called it nuclein, which is now called DNA. This all took place in the 1860s, and Johannes didn’t have the equipment he needed at the time to further conclude what the purpose of DNA was. Today we know that DNA holds our genetic information, but back then people believed that proteins did this. In the 1870s, Johannes published his findings.
A biochemist named Albrecht Kossel was also part of the discovery of DNA. He was actually the one to give DNA it’s name which stands for deoxyribonucleic acid, and saw the five of its bases: adenine, cytosine, guanine, thymine, and uracil. This occurred in the 1880s. Gregor Mendel was a scientist that discovered specifics of genetics by looking at pea plants in the late 1850s. His findings included recessive and dominant traits and how genes come in pairs. His ideas weren’t acknowledged until they were brought up again in the early 1900s.
A man named Walther Flemming observed what he called chromatin (but was actually later realized to be chromosomes) that were located in the nucleus of cells. He helped contribute to answering questions in mitosis, such as the specific functions of these chromosomes and how they divide. Walter Sutton and Theodor Boveri suggested that genetic material was passed down between each generation in chromosomes. This went together with the Mendel’s discovery from years before. Theodor Boveri came up with the idea that chromosomes in sex cells were connected to heredity. Together they were both able to conclude that chromosomes have genetic information inside them and they get passed down to offsprings. This explains how DNA was discovered and it’s functions, but not what it looks like.
This is where James Watson and Francis Crick come in. They worked together in the University of Cambridge with the work of other scientists in an attempt to come up with a model that best represented what DNA looks like. They got most of their research from a chemist named Rosalind Franklin.
She used X-ray crystallography, which is a technique used to identify a molecule’s structure. Together they were all able to make a 3-dimensional model of DNA (a double helix). One of the main functions of DNA is carrying genetic material.
This information gets passed down to the offsprings from both parents. This is how the results of DNA tests can be viewed because the DNA would be the same. DNA is a complex molecule that is organized in a way that makes this possible, so without being able to store genetic information, and since no other molecule can do this, then none of this would be able to pass down to offsprings. DNA also has the ability to make a copy of itself. This has to happen for mitosis to occur. If cells can’t perform mitosis then they won’t be able to divide and make more cells. DNA is also partly responsible for telling the cell what proteins should be made, and what job they should do.
It helps make more cells for different organs. This happens constantly, so without DNA the cell would eventually die because it wouldn’t know what to do after a period of time. All organisms have DNA, and without it nothing would be able to function properly.