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The flow of genetic information

The cell is a structure that is criss-crossed by flows: flows of energy, matter, and information. The major carrier of the flows of information is the genetic material that holds genetic information. This consists of a molecule with a relatively simple structure: DNA. In effect, there are 4 bases combined in this molecule.
How can a molecule with a seemingly simple structure contain all the information on an individual’s characteristics? How is this information expressed? 
How is this information preserved during cell division whether it is mitosis or meiosis?  Animated sequences plunge us into and guide us through this mystery. Grab on to one of the passing genetic flows and come surf!


Script, animation & direction: Yannick Mahé
Design & development: Thomas Cussonneau
Illustration: Gilles Macagno
Text: Adeline André
Production: CNDP (2011)


Scientific expert

Pierre-Henri Gouyon

Pierre-Henri Gouyon

Muséum national d'histoire naturelle, Département Botanique, Paris, France
Origin, structure & evolution of biodiversity

«Understanding the world around us is essential. Everyone knows there is a resemblance between parents and children, but there are also differences. The basis for these phenomena can be found in cell function and the transmission of genetic information. The discovery of these phenomena was the most thrilling adventure in 20th-century biology. Even after the major discoveries of Darwin and Mendel in the 19th century, it was still not understood how heredity was physically transmitted. It was first discovered that DNA transfers could modify bacteria behaviour. The double helix structure of the DNA molecule, which explains how it can be copied, was discovered in 1953, and over the course of the 1960s we gained more and more insight into how this information was read. It is indeed fascinating that such a simple structure can help us to understand heredity. Some have forgotten that this transmission of information is nothing outside a given cellular context and in a given environment. Heredity in its entirety includes what is presented here but also other phenomena linked to the cellular context (epigenesis) and to the environment... 
But as a start, let’s see what happens for chromosomes inside cells...»


Canopé Ludwig Maximilians Universität München Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Westfälische Wilhelms Universität Münster