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Meselson, Stahl, and the Replication of DNAA History of "The Most Beautiful Experiment in Biology"$
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Frederic Lawrence Holmes

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780300085402

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300085402.001.0001

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One Discovery, Three Stories

One Discovery, Three Stories

(p.303) Chapter Nine One Discovery, Three Stories
Meselson, Stahl, and the Replication of DNA

Frederic Lawrence Holmes

Yale University Press

This chapter discusses Meselson's and Stahl's decision to switch from 5-BU to 15N to produce heavy DNA and, at the same time, to carry out the transfer experiments with bacteria in place of phage. Their shift, although abrupt, was premeditated. Meselson had already contemplated using bacteria earlier when he still envisioned carrying out the experiments only with 5-BU. In the research statement he submitted, he outlined the strategy he would use. The plan was to grow the organisms in the heavy medium, transfer them to the light medium, withdraw samples at time intervals representing successive cell generations, lyse the bacteria to release their DNA, and centrifuge the latter in the density gradient. The first step in the new experimental design was to test whether Escherichia coli would grow normally in a medium containing heavy nitrogen.

Keywords:   5-BU, 15N, heavy DNA, transfer experiments, bacteria, phage, successive cell generations, density gradient, Escherichia coli

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