Although the technology that enabled us to analyze DNA was only invented in 1985, the concept of DNA has been around for centuries. Here are some amazing facts on the history of DNA.
As early as 3000 BC ancient Chinese and Sumerians were using farming techniques that selectively bred crops and agriculture.
A published work of Gregory Mendel in 1866 noted that “certain factors” (later known as genes) of peas were passed down from parent to offspring. These genes are inherited in pairs, one from each parent. Gregory Mendel was an Austrian monk and is now considered to be the Father of Genetics.
In 1869, Friedrich Miescher was working with soiled bandages. He identified DNA as an acidic substance.
Hugo deVries, Eric von Tschermak and Carl Correns all independently confirmed Gregory Mendel's work in 1866.
In 1911, Thomas Hunt Morgan discovered that genes were located linearly along chromosomes.
Frederick Griffith was experimenting with lab mice in 1928 to transfer the deadly component of a pneumonia bacteria strain to an innocuous bacteria strain. In the process, he determined that there was a genetic “transforming factor” in the bacteria.
The discovery that DNA is made up of nucleotides was in 1929 by Phoebus Levene. Nucleotides are made up of a phosphate group, deoxyribose sugar and one of four bases. Nucleotides make up the structural units of DNA.
Another interesting point in the history of DNA was in 1943 when William Astbury took the first x-ray diffraction images of a DNA.
In 1944, Maclyn McCarty, Oswald Avery and Colin MacLeod proved that the “transforming factor” that Frederick Griffith noted in 1928 was in fact DNA and not protein as earlier identified.
The years between 1945 and 1965 is known as the period wherein DNA was found. 1966 to 1984 is known as the Genetic Engineering period. The breakthrough technology that made DNA analysis possible was invented by British Scientist Sir Alec Jeffreys in 1985.
The history of DNA has some really amazing events. However, DNA just gained its' popularity outside the scientific field when it was used to provide evidence that convicted a rape felon in 1987. Since then, public interest of DNA testing flourished. DNA profiling is now widely used in identifying biological relationships.
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