As Ancestry.com and 23andMe explode in popularity, people are learning a lot more about their DNA. Here five shocking facts about DNA testing you never knew.
We know you can’t see your DNA, but trust us, it’s incredible.
Your DNA is a precise roadmap to your genetic makeup, but it’s also something we all share in billions of ways. Although it can show that you ‘re more Irish or Turkish or Ghanian than your cousin, we have far more DNA in common than not. We even have DNA in common with other organisms that we wouldn’t expect.
How much do you know about your DNA? Keep reading for facts about DNA that will blow your mind.
1. DNA Is the Reason Humans Exist
When we think of DNA, we think of our genetic makeup and our ancestors. The genetic material is vital, in part because it carries specific unique abilities. Most importantly, DNA carries the genetic blueprint for the existence of the basic building blocks of your body: Cells.
Without DNA, there would be no organic cells, and without cells, humans wouldn’t exist.
2. We All Share the Same DNA
The human genome contains three billion base pairs. At the same time, only approximately 0.1 percent are unique. All humans share 99.9 percent of their DNA.
3. You Have Enough DNA to Reach Pluto
Your DNA may fit in each cell, but if scientists could unravel it, then each cell would produce two meters of DNA.
Given that, all the DNA in your body would stretch between the Sun and the Earth and back again 600 times. Why? Because there are six feet of DNA in every cell, you have 100 trillion cells, and the distance to the sun is a mere 92 million miles.
4. DNA Does This Using Four Building Blocks
Every living thing has an incredible amount of DNA. At the same time, it all comes from only four different building blocks called nucleotides.
What are they? These might nucleotides include:
Each of these nucleotides is, in turn, made up of three parts: nitrogen, deoxyribose, and phosphate groups.
5. DNA Is Fragile
Much of our DNA traveled with us through time. At the same time, it is fragile. It can even be impacted by ultraviolet light.
When DNA becomes damaged, it causes mutations. Your DNA does its best to repair itself, but sometimes this isn’t possible.
While mutations sound scary, many aren’t a bad thing. Other modifications are linked to diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer. People with a strong genetic likelihood of experiencing these diseases can receive a head’s up with genetic health testing.
Scientists are currently working on a tool called CRISPR that allows researchers to edit out those mutations. When it’s available, it will allow us to edit out any genetic component. However, that editing doesn’t come without consequences.
Want More Facts About DNA?
Even with five DNA facts, we barely scratched the surface of these magical proteins. At the same time, there’s so much more for everyone to learn.