Thursday, March 16, 2006


You know how dearly I love DNA. Is it not a serious contender for Most Fabulous Molecule? (For the record, RNA is pretty hot, too.) You may also know that despite my typically vehement disapproval of yellow, I love smiley faces. Ergo, you can only imagine how happy this makes me.

A map of the Americas measuring just a few hundred nanometres across has been created out of meticulously folded strands of DNA, using a new technique for manipulating molecules dubbed "DNA origami".

The nanoscale map, which sketches out both North and South America at a staggering 200-trillionths of their actual size, aims to demonstrate the precision and complexity with which DNA can be manipulated using the approach.

...It is not the first time DNA has been used to make structures - the idea was originally developed by Nadrian Seeman at New York University, US - Rothemund's approach takes things to a new level of complexity.

Although Rothemund has only made 2D shapes there is nothing to prevent the technique being applied to make complex 3D structures, he says. These could serve as disposable scaffolds to help molecules and carbon nanotubes self assemble.

Other examples "DNA artwork", creating using the same technique, include "smiley-faces", complex geometric shapes and a picture of a double helix with the letters "DNA" running above it.

Seriously--just look at the little guy

Now, if you will excuse me, I have sequencing data to look at, which may someday prove plenty thrilling in their own right. Alas, however, I am currently unable to make happy faces with transposons. That may have to go onto the to-do list.


The Drifter said...

This is the first im hearing of the level to which DNA can be used and am amazed.

The Tiger said...

You scientists are such nerds!

Viatrix said...

It is fascinating that it can be so multipurpose, isn't it!

We are a bit on the nerdy side, aren't we. Nerdiness is good for the world, no? Although, I do personally like "adorkable" as well ;)