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 Griffith and Microbial Genetics
Name: Jessica
Status: Student
Grade:  Other
Location: OH
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.

Click here to return to the Molecular 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 (, or at Argonne's Educational Programs

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

Argonne National Laboratory