Blog

What Does DNA Look Like? The First Ever Direct Photograph of DNA

Dec 12, 2012 | DNA science

A team of Italian scientists have taken a snapshot of a single DNA molecule for the first time using the electron microscope. This technological breakthrough comes after years of depending on X-ray diffraction to provide indirect, albeit useful, information on the structure of DNA.

In 1952, the groundbreaking X-ray diffraction image of DNA, dubbed Photo 51, led to the discovery of the helical structure of DNA. This image was produced by subjecting millions of DNA molecules in crystallized form to X-rays, which were then recorded on photographic film as they bounced off the DNA. Complex mathematics were required to interpret the resulting patterns.

String of DNA shown, being held up by two silicon “nails”


The new technique involves affixing the DNA molecule to a bed of silicone nails, stretched out and ready to be photographed. Electron beams go through holes in the silicone bed and illuminate the DNA molecule, much as light would, for the photograph–the difference is that electron beams can go to a much higher resolution than light. The resulting photograph, a direct image, requires no mathematical calculations.
This new technique is expected to allow scientists to observe interactions of DNA with proteins and other important biological molecules.
Earlier this year, a team of scientists in London also produced an image of the DNA double-helix using atomic force microscopy, a technique which uses a surface-scanning method to produce a three-dimensional image. The scientists likened this technique to how a blind person would use a cane to deduce an object’s shape.
For more on DNA biology, visit our DNA education section.
*Images included with permission from “Direct Imaging of DNA Fibers: The Visage of Double Helix,” Gentile F. et al, Nano Letters Article ASAP. Copyright 2012 American Chemical Society.

0 Comments

AABB Accredited DNA Testing: Why It Matters

AABB Accredited DNA Testing: Why It Matters

When people think of DNA testing, they often associate it with words like reliable, high-tech, and accurate. The reality, however, is that DNA testing is only as good as the laboratory performing the testing. In the absence of a government agency regulating or...

The Discovery of the DNA Double Helix: Why It Still Matters

The Discovery of the DNA Double Helix: Why It Still Matters

    A Momentous Find: DNA Double Helix Structure In 1953, two talented scientists, Francis Crick and James Watson, building on the earlier work of their colleague Rosalind Franklin, discovered a structure in cells containing the blueprint that makes each creature...

10 Helpful DNA Facts for Everyone

10 Helpful DNA Facts for Everyone

  With the popularity of DNA testing for ancestry and up-and-coming lifestyle tests for fitness, nutrition, skincare and more, the science of DNA has finally entered the mainstream of the American consciousness. Home DNA paternity test kits have been in retail stores...

DNA Science: Paternity and Family Relationship Testing

DNA Science: Paternity and Family Relationship Testing

DNA science has revolutionized the paternity and family relationship testing industry with a higher power of discrimination among individuals, non-invasive sample collection options, and faster turnaround time. Get your geek on and learn information about the...

Reach Us

Have questions or need assistance? Contact our team.

DNA Technology Park
1 DDC Way
Fairfield, OH 45014

Leave A Message