Good morning everyone,
As I scan the science news each day, I often read articles that are interesting, and potentially useful. Less frequently do I encounter news reports that make me say 'wow!". Here is a link to a news report about a recent study that did, for it potentially changes something that has been fixed for perhaps a billion years.
You've heard much about DNA in your lecture and our lab, and you know the basics of its structure: two twisted strands of a sugar-phosphate backbone, with paired nucleotides along their length. You also know that the nucleotides in use are four only (A, C, G, and T) and that they pair in only two possibilities (A-T, C-G).
Recently, scientists have created synthetic DNA molecules that have not four, but eight different nucleotides (by adding synthetic nucleotides Z, P, S, and B).
There are LOTS of potential implications from this - from the spread of artificial DNA, to the possibility of new life forms, and the potential therapeutic uses of new forms of DNA. One of the more intriguing possibilities is the expanded possibility for use of DNA as a storage molecule. Computer scientists and bioengineers have long been testing methods for using DNA as a way to store digital information (after all, evolution has refined DNA structure/function for a long time, to the point at which it is highly efficient and reliable). Having additional base pairs is akin to adding letters to our alphabet - it makes the number of words or combinations of bases much, much greater, and it dramatically raises the density of data which could be stored by a molecule of DNA..
There are lots of details to work out, but this is a scientific breakthrough that will be a top contender for 'science advance of the year', if not the decade - and you can say that you are well-informed about it!
Hope that your Break is a good one!