Factoid Friday – Mosquito Bite

An average mosquito bite takes up 58.6 km of DNA, about 1.5 times the height that Felix Baumgartner fell on his jump from the edge of space.

Work

  1. Mosquitoes take up an average of 5 microlitres of blood per bite. (cite)
  2. About 350 micrograms of DNA can be extracted from 10 ml of blood. (cite)
  3. On average, each DNA base pair (two nucleotides) weighs 615 daltons. (cite)
  4. On average, each DNA base pair contributes 0.34 nanometers to the length of a DNA strand. (cite)
  5. Felix Baumgartner’s free fall was estimated to be 39 kilometres. (cite)

An average mosquito will consume about 5 ul of blood, equivalent to  (5 ul / 10 ml * 350 ug = 0.175 ug) 0.175 ug of DNA. Out of the 0.175 ug of DNA from a mosquito bite, there are (.175 ug / 615 daltons * 1 base pair = 1.714*10^14 base pairs) 1.7*10^14 base pairs of DNA. Each of the DNA base pairs contributes 0.34 nm to the length of a DNA strand, so there are (1.714*10^14 base pairs * 0.34 nm = 58.3 km) 58.3 km worth of DNA in a mosquito bite. Felix Baumgartner fell an estimated 39 kilometres, so the length of DNA in a mosquito bite is (58.3 km / 39 km  = 1.4948 times ) 1.5 times the height that Baumgartner fell. For a quick check of my math, see WolframAlpha. (cite)

Disclaimer

Factoid Fridays are tweet sized factoids with appropriate, but sometimes not peer reviewed, citations. For simplicity, I’ve left out unit conversions (i.e. micrograms to daltons), so those calculations can be considered an exercise to the reader. If you think there is an error in an assumption or calculation, please contact me.

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