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Liquid Crystals of nanoDNA

LCMRC researchers have discovered that solutions in water of pieces of DNA only a few nanometers long (nanoDNA) can form liquid crystal phases if the DNA is complementary, that is if it can form double-helixed pairs. These duplex pairs then stack up end-to-end to form rod-shaped aggregates that make the liquid crystal phases. In a mixture with some DNA that is not complementary the duplex forming DNA phase separates, condensing into liquid crystal droplets. If chemistry occurs that couples the short DNA into longer chains then the condensation strongly favors the lengthening of the already complementary DNA in the liquid crystal droplets. This appears to be a mechanism whereby early forms of nucleic acids could emerge from small chemical components in the prebiotic earth. Untitled-1 copy.jpg