Genetics relies on chemistry to explain phenomena related to the field. The structure of DNA relies on chemistry. In fact, when James Watson and Francis Crick discovered the structure of DNA, they did so by building models based on the laws of chemistry. Chemistry also relates heavily to the structure and function of one of the main products of DNA: protein.
Chemistry dictates the structure of DNA. DNA is a polymer of monomers called nucleic acids. These are made of a nitrogenous base, a phosphate group and a sugar. It is the negative charge on the phosphate group that makes DNA an acid. There are 4 different bases: adenine, thymine, guanine and cytosine. In groups of three, these four bases can code for any protein coded for in an organism’s genome. Two strands of nucleic acids stack on top of each other in a double helix. The backbone of the nucleic acids consists of the interaction between phosphate groups and the hydroxide groups of nucleic acids. These are held together by covalent bonds called phosphodiester bonds. The helix itself is held together by hydrogen bonds. Although hydrogen bonds are weak individually, there are so many of them within DNA that the strands are held tightly together. Without basic chemistry the structure of DNA would be a mystery.
The instructions to make a protein are coded by DNA. This is extremely relevant to the field of genetics because it is protein that determines the final characteristics of an organism. Proteins are also macromolecules and chemistry plays a large role in their form and function. Proteins are polymers of amino acids; molecules made of central carbon bound to a hydrogen, an amine group, a carboxyl group and a unique R group. R groups can be polar or nonpolar, charged or uncharged, have different elements or large or small. These properties all depend on what elements are involved and how they are combined to make the R group.
There are four levels of protein structure all of which rely on chemical principles to hold the protein together. The first level of protein structure consists of the specific...