A brief history of DNA
A look at some DNA milestones
1953: James Watson and Francis Crick reveal the structure of DNA as a double-stranded helix. They acknowledge the importance of ideas and data from Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins.
1956: Human chromosome number established as 46, overturning the previously accepted figure of 48.
1977: Fred Sanger and Walter Gilbert develop efficient methods for DNA sequencing. Sanger’s team sequences the first DNA genome, that of the bacterium-infecting virus phi X174.
1981: Human mitochondrial genome sequence published by Fred Sanger and colleagues.
1990: After some years of discussion, the Human Genome Project – to map, then sequence, the entire complement of human DNA – gets underway.
1995: Genome of the bacterium Haemophilus influenzae published, with 1.8 million base pairs (the first genome of a non-viral organism to be sequenced).
1996: Yeast genome published, containing 6,000 genes (the first eukaryotic cell genome to be sequenced).
1999: Fruit-fly genome published.
1999: First human chromosome sequence, number 22, published.
2000: UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President Bill Clinton announce a ‘working draft’ of the human genome, produced by researchers working in the public and private sectors.
2001: The international Human Genome Project and private company Celera Genomics publish two independent drafts of the human genome sequence.
2002: Mouse Genome Sequencing Consortium completes first draft.
2002: Plasmodium genome sequenced, providing information that should be useful for understanding malaria, developing a vaccine and finding new drug targets.
2008: Launch of the 1000 Genomes project, intended to produce the best catalogue of human genetic variation to date.
2009: Researchers from Germany announce that they have sequenced the entire genome of a 38,000-year-old Neanderthal.
2010: The draft sequence of the Neanderthal genome published.
2012: 1,092 human genomes sequenced as part of the 1000 Genomes Project are described in the journal ‘Nature’.
2012: Western gorilla and bonobo genome sequences published.
2013: Genomics England launched by the Department of Health, aiming to sequence 100,000 human genomes.
2013: Koala genome sequence published.
2014: 234 cattle genome sequences completed, part of the 1000 Bull Genomes Project.
2014: Draft sequence of the bread wheat genome published.
2014: Cost of sequencing a human genome falls to below $1,000.Lead image:
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