What my DNA tasted like
Ever since I read Richard Preston‘s description of the taste of his own DNA, I was curious to sample mine. Not that what I read sounded tasty – just very gooey and quirky. An opportunity presented itself couple of years ago at Singularity University when visitors from Biocurious (a biology hackerspace in the bay area) conducted a DNA-extraction workshop.
The process of extraction is straightforward. Lyse the cells in your cheeks, degrade the protein with protease (a salty mixture), pour the cell-adulterated mixture into a test tube, invert it a few times, break down proteins by warming the tube in your hand, add ethanol to the mixture and sit still for 5 minutes. In just a few minutes, whitish blobs of DNA coagulate. Using a pipette, you can suck it up and put it in a necklace (see mine in pic).
What My DNA Tasted Like
Insipid but on the side of salty. Vaguely sharp. Viscous. When I sucked some, blobs of DNA hung around for a bit on my tongue and slipped away quickly into some dark corner of my gut.
More than the tasting, it was bizarre to carefully extract genetic software – passed down by kind ancestors so that my body could build its own hardware – and simply swill it down. For a moment, I wondered where it would end and what that meant. But I quickly dismissed those thoughts and walked to the nearest water cooler.
You can buy a genetic extraction kit here. Of course, you can taste it too!