• Question: How is DNA like a recipe book?

    Asked by sbyrnes771 to Barn Owl, Brown garden snail, Common Crane, Emperor Dragonfly, Hazel Dormouse, Catshark, Scotch Thistle, St Kilda Wren on 8 Dec 2017.
    • Photo: Emperor Dragonfly

      Emperor Dragonfly answered on 8 Dec 2017:

      Well, we have for many years assumed that all the instructions for making a fly, a human or a mouse are encoded with the DNA of that organism (its genome).

      I say assumed because testing this is correctis quite hard – we’d have to make an organism whose DNA was entirely synthesised, so it couldn’t contain any extra informational molecules (like RNA or proteins) and then put it inside an organism where the genome had been removed, and see if it worked…

      Fortunately that experiment was done in 2010, and the “genome hypothesis” seems to be correct (or at least we cannot reject it) at least for simple organisms… a chemically synthesised genome “ran” like a computer programme in an empty cell, and it grew to make the first partly synthetic organism (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK84435/)

      So DNA does really contain the instructions to make a human, or any other organism!

    • Photo: Common Crane

      Common Crane answered on 8 Dec 2017:

      The key thing is to keep track of time. Nobody likes their humans burned 😀