The History of DNA Research
ANTH 1011L SEC 014
December 3rd, 2014
The History of DNA Research
In this paper I will cover the discovery of DNA and how research has evolved since Gregor Mendal’s experiments on plants in 1857. This topic is very relevant in Biological Anthropology because DNA was found to be one of the biggest factors in the evolution of human’s over time, as it is the key of genetics.
In 1857 Gregor Mendal preformed his very first genetic test on a set of pea plants. Gregor, a mathematician from the University of Vienna died in 1884. Mendal is labeled as the father of DNA as he was the first to discover the existence with viable evidence. During ...view middle of the document...
Miescher labeled this new substance that he found as “nuclein” since it was within the cells nucleus. A few years before Miescher’s death one of his former students from Basel University renamed the “nuclein” as “nucleic acid” due to its chemical make up of both protein and an acid molecule. In modern day the substance is now known as deoxyribonucleic acid more commonly known as DNA. Miescher in the latter part of his life is credited with being the first to successfully extract DNA from another cell, with that cell being salmon sperm.
The next person to follow in line of genetic discoveries was Frederick Griffith, he is best known for the “Griffith Experiment”. It was one of the very first experiments credited with the discovery suggesting that bacteria is actually capable of transferring genetic information through the term known today as transformation. He infected several different mice with different strains of bacteria and exposed those mice to heat. Only one group of the mice survived and they were the mice infected with the “III-S” strain of bacteria. While this may not seem as big of a discovery compared to the previous discoveries mentioned, it is equally as important.
Following the discoveries of Frederick Griffith, a man by the name of Phoebus Levene came along. Levene was a biochemist that specialized in the structure and function of nucleic acids. He is the first credited with deciphering the difference in DNA and RNA. Levene also found that within the DNA there were the chemicals adenine, guanine, thymine, cytosine and deoxyribose. In the year 1910 Levene is given credit for his “tetranucleotide hypothesis” which said that DNA is made up of equal amounts of adenine, guanine, thymine, cytosine and deoxyribose. It was later proven by the work of Erwin Chargaff that this was actually incorrect and that Levene’s proposed idea of tetranucleotide structure was incorrect.
Following Levene’s discoveries and everyone’s previous to him, Erwin Chargraff came about in an era of genetics when scientists were attempting to create a model to replicate DNA. In the 40’s Chargraff identified this pattern in four bases those being adenine, guanine, cytosine and thymine. Throughout his studies he took samples of DNA of different cells and actually found out that the levels of adenine and thymine were almost identical. From that he claimed that G=C and A=T, later this discovery was labeled as the “Chargraff Rule”. This was a breakthrough in the field of genetical studies, now scientists are actually finding out the levels of these chemicals within DNA and that creates a whole new gate way for the scientists that follow after Chargraff.
Next is arguably the biggest discovery in genetics today behind the actually discovery of DNA. Two researchers whose names were Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins successfully discovered the shape of DNA. They found this out by the ambition to take X-Ray pictures of DNA to better understand how DNA actually...