What Is DNA and How Is It Different From Ribonucleic Acid?

DNA is a polymer composed of two long chains of nucleotides that coil around each other to form a double helix. These chains carry genetic instructions and are essential for the life of all known organisms and some viruses. This polymer also has similar names, such as ribonucleic acid and DNA. Here is an explanation of what DNA is and how it is different from ribonucleic acid. DNA and RNA are both nucleic acids.

DNA is the hereditary material that contains all the biological instructions for a living organism. DNA is passed from parent to child during reproduction. The first breakthrough in identifying DNA came in 1953 when scientists James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins built models of DNA that showed the molecule’s double helix structure. The double helix structure is similar to a necklace made of beads. It contains four nucleotides (adenine, cytosine, guanine) that are connected to each other.

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Chromosomes contain one DNA molecule each. Chromosomes are long and have to be packaged in a way that it can fit in cells. The DNA is coiled into chromosomes, or strands. Each chromosome contains one DNA molecule and is wrapped around a spool-like protein called histones. DNA is long and contains twenty to thirty-thousand genes.

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