About the Seminar
The ability to “see” single biomolecules with laser microscopy has led to a revolution in research opportunities for chemistry, physics and molecular biology. This talk will present a few short stories with the common theme of how we can use optical microscopy and single photon counting laser fluorescence methods to probe/measure the folding of single nucleic acid molecules (e.g., DNA and RNA) in real time. I’ll first try to show how these single molecule methods can be used to measure rates for conformational folding and unfolding, as well as how we can influence folding of DNA and RNA by heating/cooling or addition of ions (like Mg+2). Time permitting, I hope also to discuss the effect of molecular “crowding” relevant to how your DNA and RNA fold in vivo in your own cells, as well as how we can extend these methods to extreme pressures (Pext = 4000 atmospheres!) up to 4x times higher than found in the very deepest regions of the ocean floor! The unifying goal in this talk will be the development of simple PChem pictures that help us interpret, explain, and potentially control/influence the biophysics of DNA and RNA folding at the single molecule level.