Department of Energy Argonne National Laboratory Office of Science NEWTON's Homepage NEWTON's Homepage
NEWTON, Ask A Scientist!
NEWTON Home Page NEWTON Teachers Visit Our Archives Ask A Question How To Ask A Question Question of the Week Our Expert Scientists Volunteer at NEWTON! Frequently Asked Questions Referencing NEWTON About NEWTON About Ask A Scientist Education At Argonne Universal Codons
Name:  C. L.
Location: N/A
Country: N/A
Date: N/A


Question:
Are codons universal? For instance, are they assigned to the same amino acids in other organisms like flowers and fish?



Replies:
Yes. All known living things on earth use the same genetic code.

Richard Barrans Jr., Ph.D.


yes the genetic code is universal. However there are multiple choices per amino acid, and the preferred codon for a given amino acid may differ between organisms. The only exception to the general genetic code is that used by mitochondria. These are small organelles inside a cell that provide the cell with energy and where respiration takes place. These organelles contain their own DNA and here they use a few different codons, eg. TGA (or more correctly UGA) means STOP in the general genetic code, but tryptophane in mammalial mitochondria. There are 4 other codons that differ between mitochondria and the rest of the genetic world.Other than that, we can all read eachothers DNA, between animals, plants, and even bacteria. The meaning of the resulting protein may remain a mistery to us, though.

Dr. Trudy Wassenaar


Absolutely!! This is one of the best pieces of evidence for a common ancestor for all life because all living things use the same genetic code and the proteins made are put together by the same amino acids.



Click here to return to the Biology Archives

NEWTON is an electronic community for Science, Math, and Computer Science K-12 Educators, sponsored and operated by Argonne National Laboratory's Educational Programs, Andrew Skipor, Ph.D., Head of Educational Programs.

For assistance with NEWTON contact a System Operator (help@newton.dep.anl.gov), or at Argonne's Educational Programs

NEWTON AND ASK A SCIENTIST
Educational Programs
Building 360
9700 S. Cass Ave.
Argonne, Illinois
60439-4845, USA
Update: June 2012
Weclome To Newton

Argonne National Laboratory