Griffith and Microbial Genetics
Country: United States
Date: May 2006
Why was this Griffith experiment is important to the
development of microbial genetics?
Griffith was the first scientist to show that a genetic characteristic (a
polsaccharide coat) could be transferred from one strain of bacteria to
another. He was unable, however, to identify the active ingredient of the
bacterial extract. It was Avery, McLeod and McArty who identified the
"transforming principle" in 1943. In retrospect, their experiments were
worthy of the Nobel prize, but their work was ahead of its time. Although
they clearly showed that DNA was the genetic material, scientists at the
time thought that protein was the genetic material because of its
complexity. Although it was known that chromosomes were partly comprised of
DNA, it was though that DNA was too simple a molecule to carry information
beause it was made up of only four different components, Adenine, Thymine,
Guanine and Cytosine. Wrong!
Ron Baker, Ph.D.
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Update: June 2012