Articles on DNA

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Hydrogen peroxide – widely used in hair bleach – may also hold the key to life on early Earth. Brandon Milner Photography/Flickr

Can bleach help solve the origin of life in the primordial soup?

A chemical found in hair bleach may help answer questions about the origins of life and explain why new life does not emerge on modern Earth. Hydrogen peroxide may have helped transform RNA (ribonucleic…
Wild chickens are everywhere in Hawaii but how did they get there? Flickr/jaybergesen

Chickens tell tale of human migration across Pacific

Holiday in Hawaii and one of the birds you’re most likely to encounter is the chicken. You find them everywhere from beaches, to car parks and on walks through the bushland. The locals warn that your chance…
Too much information could be a recipe for disaster. Abode of Chaos

The next pandemic could be downloaded from the internet

Last October, scientists in California sequenced the DNA for the “type H” botulinum toxin. One gram of this toxin would be sufficient to kill half a billion people, making it the deadliest substance yet…
The reason few errors are discovered is that it’s so hard to identify them. Image from shutterstock.com

Truth or lies: overturning wrongful convictions

A person is wrongly convicted of a serious crime, then fresh evidence reveals they are, in fact, innocent. It’s a thriller movie formula and you’d hope that if this were to happen, justice would prevail…
Fashion tastes probably change too. Simon Whittaker

How your grandparents’ life could have changed your genes

If your great-grandparents lived through a famine, their experience could well have altered their genetic code. And three generations later you could well be showing signs of that change. The idea that…
Skate, or “skate”? Andrew M Griffiths

Unchecked food fraud threatens vulnerable fish

The deliberate act of falsely representing, labelling or advertising food, known as “food fraud”, is not a recent phenomenon. The deceitful adulteration of food has a long history based on the promise…
Whole genome sequencing can help identify the source of the antibiotic resistance. Shutterstock

Genomic analysis could help win the fight against superbugs

Some recent headlines from Australian newspapers: NSW hospitals worst place for Golden Staph; CA-MRSA - the killer in our midst; Superbug onslaught. By now, most people are aware that antibiotic-resistant…
Can’t handle the pressure. Stefanotshcki!

Exploding herpes virus blasts DNA into human cells

Some viruses are like tiny powerhouses. They are only nanometers in size, but their insides are jam-packed with DNA that is so highly pressurised that it explodes out during infection. Herpes simplex 1…
This Yellow Wagtail is a fugitive in flight, but forensic technology will track him down. Flickr: jcoelho

CSI: Birding … barcoding the past, present and future

The extinction of an animal is no longer the end of our opportunity to learn new things about its ecology and biology. The same technology that recently reconstructed the genome of the Neanderthal man…
RNA is similar to DNA in lots of ways. But an extra oxygen atom makes all the difference. Image from shutterstock.com

Explainer: what is RNA?

Our genetic material is encoded in DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). DNA is famous. But you may also have also heard of RNA (ribonucleic acid). So, what is RNA, and what is it good for? Quite a lot really…
Three metres of DNA is looped and folded so it fits into a tiny human cell nucleus, but what other effects does this have? dullhunk

Kinky genes: how we fit three metres of DNA into a cell nucleus

When scientists first decided to sequence the human genome, it seemed an impossibly large and complicated challenge. A decade since achieving this aim, scientists are faced with a similarly overwhelming…

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