What Is the Size & Shape of Bacterial DNA?

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Bacterial DNA differs in size and shape from human, animal or plant DNA because it is much smaller and ovular-shaped instead of in the shape of a double helix. Learn the differences between bacterial and mammal DNA with information from a biology teacher in this free video on science.

Part of the Video Series: DNA Structure & Testing
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Video Transcript

Did you know that the insulin that diabetics use today to inject themselves and help control their sugar is actually made from bacteria? I'm Janice Creneti. I've been teaching biology for over twenty years and I'm here answer the question: What's the size and shape of bacterial DNA? Bacteria are living organisms, but they're very different from the cells that are inside a human body, or the cells even that are inside a plant or a fish or a cat or a dog. First of all, bacteria are very, very, very small. They're so small that the average high school microscope can barely pick them up. It's one of the reasons they're so good at sticking to surfaces and we don't even know they're there. Also another reason that they're good at getting inside of our body through tiny little pores or teeny tiny cuts that we might not even see. Bacterial DNA is also different from the DNA that is inside of the human body or again, a cat or a dog, or even a plant. You see, in a human being, or animals or plants, DNA exists as a double helix. It kind of looks like a ladder if we were to untwist it. And then it's twisted up, and there's many, many strands of these inside every cell. But inside a bacteria, the DNA is shaped a little bit differently. It's basically shaped like an oval or a circle. If you were to take this right here and unwind it, you would see that it's all one long strand that's connected. That's one of the reasons that bacterial DNA has become a really important part in producing things like insulin. You seen, before we could use this technology, we used to have to get insulin from other animals, from cows and pigs, and human beings would inject that insulin and a lot of times their bodies couldn't handle the fact that it was really chemically different than the insulin our own body was creating. Well, now scientists have the ability to take the gene from human DNA that creates insulin, and they actually splice it into the bacterial DNA. Those of you that still have Super 8 films hanging around, if you've never spliced film together you'll know what I'm talking about. So they splice that in there and basically create a bacteria that now makes human insulin. It's made the drug much cheaper and much easier to come by. And because these bacteria are so tiny, well we can have millions of them in a tiny area. It's a great advancement in human medicine. I'm Janice Creneti, and this is "What is the size and Shape of Bacterial DNA?"


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