Atoms Alive

Atoms Alive is a series about DNA and genetics, which has been produced to support the biology curriculum for upper secondary students.
It seems incredible that all life on earth comes from the information held in a single kind of molecule. DNA is an immense molecule that can direct the fantastically complex chemistry of the cell, reproduce itself, and even self-modify to take advantage of new conditions. You could say that all the different forms of life, from earliest to modern, are simply the different disguises of DNA as it has tried out many containers for itself. How is it conceivable that a molecule made of only four types of building blocks can create such sophistication?

Ep 1 - Biomolecules

Introduces nucleic acids, lipids, proteins and carbohydrates. Starts with Earth 4 billion years ago & asks how could the chemicals of life have arisen? A simulation of the famous Stanley Miller experiment is shown. One of the oldest fossils, a stromolite is shown, at the same time as its living descendants. The first biomolecule was probably a self assembling polymer - Nucleic acid. DNA reproduction. Then lipids and their role as cell membranes are discussed. Proteins get the action going - demo of an enzyme reaction.

Ep 2 - Little Cell - Big Picture

Overviews cell structure. Begins by distinguishing prokaryotes from eukaryotes and looks at some of the key differences. Are eukaryotes a case of cells within cells? Certain organelles such as mitochondria and chloroplasts appear to bear out an ancient symbiosis. Coverage of metabolism - anabolism - catabolism. The technique of cell fractionation by centrifuge. The program concludes with a lengthy animated tour of the inside of a typical eukaryotic cell.

Ep 3 - DNA: Store and Copy

Introduces Mendelian genetics and the basic capabilities of DNA. Overview of mitosis and meiosis. A thumbnail sketch of Mendel's key experiment - smooth peas and wrinkled peas. Are chromosomes the Mendelian factors? No. The search for 'genes' finds that DNA is the genetic material. Chemical structure of DNA. How DNA reproduces. Demo of polymerase chain reaction.

Ep 4 - DNA: Core and Expression

Covers how DNA codes for proteins and how it expresses the code. DNA is extracted in the laboratory. DNA codes for proteins. Refresher on proteins and their roles. DNA is a triplet code for proteins. Transcription of Mrna via Trna to polypeptides - all animated. The universal genetic code and a brief demo of how we can read the code in the laboratory.

Ep 5 - DNA: Regulation and Mutation

How genes are controlled or 'regulated'. Cloning versus sexual reproduction. Changes to the DNA - good and bad. If all cells in an organism share the same genome, why aren't they all alike? We look at examples of totipotency. Any random change to a gene is a mutation; good, bad and neutral mutations. Oscar, the blind dog is a case of a double recessive mutated gene. Sexual reproduction mixes genes.

Ep 6 - Recombinant DNA

The ways and outcomes of transferring genes from one organism to another. We begin with an explanation of restriction enzymes, the chemistry that makes recombinant DNA possible. The gene gun is a crude way of transferring DNA. Bacterial plasmid vectors are more sophisticated. They have resulted in biological products made like the production of human insulin via bacterial culture. Gene therapy and cancer. Applications in agriculture.

Ep 7 - DNA Technology

How we read DNA and some of this technology. Finding and creating genes. Starts with a forensic lab doing DNA fingerprinting and how it is done. Accuracy considerations. Limits of nuclear DNA in tracing lineage - usefulness of tracing the Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA. Three ways of isolating or constructing genes in the laboratory.

Ep 8 - Genetic Issues

How we read DNA and some of this technology. Finding and creating genes. Starts with a forensic lab doing DNA fingerprinting and how it is done. Accuracy considerations. Limits of nuclear DNA in tracing lineage - usefulness of tracing the Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA. Three ways of isolating or constructing genes in the laboratory.

This program is released for non theatrical use within educational, government and business organisations. Additional payments under a Screenrights licence are not required. Please contact us for Exhibition or Streaming Licences.

Producer: 
Production Year: 
2001
Duration: 
8 x 15 mins
Series Episode
Standard $330
Schools $220
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