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Name: Fabia
Status: Other
Grade:  Other
Location: TX
Country: United States
Date: April 2006

Why does DNA make a better material than RNA for storage of genetic information?

The most important by far is that DNA is typically double stranded. This has a number of advantages, the most immediate being when one strand breaks the entire molecule doess not fall apart...there are other advantages...if an error is made in one strand on one base the other strand is still there in its original order to help maintain the original sequence on the opposite strand when a correction enzyme comes along to clip out the mismatch.


Both can serve as genetic material; many viruses use RNA as their genetic material. DNA probably evolved as the genetic material for cells so that RNA could be used as messenger RNA which carries the information for protein synthesis to the ribosomes. This way, many "copies" of the gene can be made so that more protein molecules can be synthesized in a short period of time. Also, the mRNA is metabolically unstable because it is rapidly broken down by RNAse. DNA must be stable so RNA had to evolve to fulfill this function.

Ron Baker, Ph.D.

Dear Fabian,

Both DNA and RNA have the same coding capacity. They both are polymers with similar potential length. The answer to your question lies in a form of DNA that commonly exists in all living organisms but is not really common with RNA. Some viruses are exceptional because they exist with a single strand of DNA or with a double strand of RNA.

Jim Tokuhisa, Ph.D.

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