DNA My Smoothie!
Think of the horsemeat scandal. Do the ingredients in your ready meal match the labeling? Think of all the food you throw away because it might have gone bad. Are bacteria growing in the soup that you forgot in the fridge? There is no better way to find out than to look at the DNA!
Every form of life on Earth has its unique identifier inside it - you just need to get it out and read it.
We did precisely that together with scientist Kim Judge from the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. Can you find out what is in our mystery smoothie? Follow the instructions below.
1. Go to the DNA database: http://plantgdb.org/cgi-bin/blast/PlantGDBblast
2. Under Step 1, click "All Species", then under organism choose "Select All".
3. Click the link below and in the window that opens, highlight and copy all the text from the box below (including ">NakedScientists" and the DNA sequence made up of the letters A, T, C and G).
4. Scroll down to "Step 2" and paste the text into the text box.
5. Press "Run BLAST". It will take a while before the list of results appears.
6. The first result with the highest BLAST score is the best match. Click on it to find the latin name of the plant - google will tell you the English translation.
But there is lots more to discover from the DNA! If you look at results further down the list you will see that they belong to different plants. These plants apparently have quite similar DNA compared to the one you identified. That is a good indication that they are closely related.
Which plants are related to the one you identified as a smoothie ingredient?
If you want to find out what else was in our mystery smoothie, Kim has more DNA sequences for you. Follow the link below.