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Unit: DNA as the genetic material

Check your understanding of the discovery, structure, and replication of DNA!


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DNA is the molecule that carries heredity information for all living things on Earth. Learn more about the structure of this amazing molecule and how it carries information.
Today, we know that DNA is the genetic material: the molecule that bears genes, is passed from parents to children, and provides instructions for the growth and functioning of living organisms. But scientists didn’t always know this. In fact, for many years, researchers thought that protein would turn out to be the genetic material! Learn more about the properties of DNA and how it was identified as the hereditary molecule.
When you make a copy of something, how perfect does the copy need to be? If that something is your DNA, the answer is, pretty perfect! Errors during DNA copying can lead to cancer and other health conditions. Learn how cells use a group of different enzymes to accurately copy their DNA, and how they detect and repair copying errors and DNA damage.

About this unit

What exactly is DNA? This seemingly simple polymer, made up of just four different types of monomers, serves as the genetic material for all living organisms. For example, your DNA provides instructions for building and maintaining your unique body and can be passed on if you have children. Learn more about the discovery, structure, and synthesis of this remarkable molecule.