All about DNA

Humans, in common with other living things, inherit characteristics from their parents through genes.

99.9% of DNA sequences are the same in every person, but enough of the DNA is different to distinguish one individual from another.

Genes are made from deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), which is a long molecule made up of simple units that are in a particular order. This order or sequence is like a code which is the information needed to grow and operate a living organism.

Human cells normally have two copies of each gene. However, the mother’s egg and the father’s sperm each contain only one copy of each type. When the sperm fertilises the egg, a complete set of genes is created. For any given gene, one copy will have come from the father, and the other from the mother.

The nucleus of every microscopic cell in your body contains 180 cm of DNA.

Humans have about 30,000 genes. For over half of these, their function has not yet been determined.

Some surprising factssurprising facts from

Former US president Barack Obama is a tenth cousin, once removed, of his predecessor – George W Bush. George W Bush is also related to Prince William and Winston Churchill.

President Obama is a distant cousin of the actor Brad Pitt.

Hillary Clinton is related to Angelina Jolie. In fact Clinton is also related to Madonna, Celine Dion, Alanis Morissette, Jack Kerouac and Camilla Parker-Bowles.

It is true to say we are all related. Furthermore, human DNA sequences are over 95% identical to chimpanzee sequences and around 50% identical to banana sequences.

DNA is found in all known living organisms. Go back in time far enough and you will find a common ancestor between humans and bananas.