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Genomes are composed of DNA, and a knowledge of the structure of DNA is essential to understand how it can function as hereditary material. DNA is remarkable, breathtakingly simple in its structure yet capable of directing all the living processes in a cell, the production of new cells and the development of a fertilized egg to an individual adult. DNA has three key properties: it is relatively stable; its structure suggests an obvious way in which the molecule can be duplicated, or replicated; and it carries a store of vital information that is used in the cell to produce proteins. The first two properties of DNA are analysed in this free course, What is the genome made of?
After studying this unit you should understand:
- the basic composition and structure of DNA;
- what is meant by complementary DNA base pairing;
- how base pairing allows a mechanism for DNA replication;
- the number of DNA molecules within a chromosome.
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What is the genome made of?
Genomes are composed of DNA, and a knowledge of the structure of DNA is essential to understand how it can function as hereditary material. DNA is remarkable, breathtakingly simple in its structure yet capable of directing all the living processes in a cell, the production of new cells and the development of a fertilized egg to an individual adult.
DNA has three key properties: it is relatively stable; its structure suggests an obvious way in which the molecule can be duplicated, or replicated; and it carries a store of vital information that is used in the cell to produce proteins. The first two properties of DNA are analysed in this unit.
This material is from our archive and is an adapted extract from Learn about human genetics and health issues (SK195), which is no longer taught by The Open University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in this.
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This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Biology courses or view the range of currently available OU Biology courses.
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Originally published: Monday, 1st January 2001
Last updated on: Tuesday, 19th August 2014
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
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