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Vibrant Timelapses Capture Crystallizing DNA

Biochemist-turned-bioartist Linden Gledhill has created jaw-dropping images of crystallizing DNA for the express purpose of defeating autism on the molecular level.
A timelapse of crystallizing DNA, seen under a 1000x research microscope. Images via

When most people think of DNA, the familiar twisted ladder of the double helix comes to mind. When Linden Gledhill thinks of DNA, however, the images are a bit more colorful. That's because the biochemist-turned-bioartist, who in the past has taken sublime photographs of butterfly wings and created the gorgeous microscopic art of Jon Hopkins' Immunity album, understands that on the molecular level, DNA can look like abstract art.


These days, Gledhill is putting that knowledge to good use, creating jaw-dropping images of crystallizing DNA samples for the purposes of identifying and treating autism's different subtypes. MSSNG is a massive DNA sequencing project by Autism Speaks in collaboration with Google Cloud's Genomics effort whose goal is to create and open-source the world's largest genomic database of those affected by autism. Involving data from 10,000 families affected by the condition, MSSNG seeks to fill in our gaps in knowledge on the molecular level.

For the project, Gledhill captured more than 15,000 images using a specialized 1000x research microscope. His process involved crystallizing DNA samples by removing the water from them, and bending polarizing light through the resulting structures. Then, using timelapse techniques, he turned the life-forming molecules into the vibrant fluorescent GIFs and videos you see here. The only image manipulation processes he used were to create panoramic posters that will be sold to benefit MSSNG. “It’s actually very cool because few people have really seen images like these before our research groups,” Gledhill explains. “When people see them they ask me, ‘What is that?’ They have no idea and are quite surprised it’s DNA.”

Click here to learn more about MSSNG, and below, check out more of Gledhill's gorgeous genetic imagery:

H/t Digg


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