Scientists create world's smallest copy of Mona Lisa with DNA

While DNA is perhaps best known for encoding the genetic information of living things, the molecule is also an excellent chemical building block.

Scientists create world's smallest copy of  Mona Lisa with DNA
Mona Lisa

New Delhi: Using DNA, scientists from the United States have created the world's smallest copy of Italian polymath Leonardo da Vinci's famous painting Mona Lisa.

Researchers from California Institute of Technology in the US developed an inexpensive method by which DNA origami self-assembles into large arrays with entirely customisable patterns, creating a sort of canvas that can display any image.

They developed a software that can take an image such as the Mona Lisa, divide it up into small square sections, and determine the DNA sequences needed to make up those squares.

They then got those sections to self-assemble into a superstructure that recreates the Mona Lisa.

While DNA is perhaps best known for encoding the genetic information of living things, the molecule is also an excellent chemical building block.

A single-stranded DNA molecule is composed of smaller molecules called nucleotides - abbreviated A, T, C and G - arranged in a string, or sequence.

"To make our technique readily accessible to other researchers who are interested in exploring applications using micrometre-scale flat DNA nanostructures, we developed an online software tool that converts the user's desired image to DNA strands and wet-lab protocols," said Lulu Qian, assistant professor at Caltech.

"The protocol can be directly read by a liquid-handling robot to automatically mix the DNA strands together. The DNA nanostructure can be assembled effortlessly," Qian said.

Using the online software tool and automatic liquid- handling techniques, several other patterns were designed and assembled from DNA strands, including a life-sized portrait of a bacterium and a bacterium-sized portrait of a rooster.

(With PTI inputs)

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