Why Is Replication Called Semi-Conservative?

Replication is an integral part of the life cycle of a cell and is essential for the production of new cells. The process involves copying the genetic material of one cell and passing it on to a new cell.

Now what makes this replication process stand out is the fact that it is also known as semi-conservative replication. In this article, we will explore an explanation behind this term ‘semi-conservative’ and how it applies to the process of DNA replication. So come along with us, as we unravel the intriguing mystery behind semi-conservative replication.

What is Replication?

Replication is the process where genetic material is passed from one generation to another. It is known to be the basis of life and one of the most important processes in biology.

Replication is crucial in maintaining the continuity of life and its processes.

How Does Replication Work?

Replication is the process of copying DNA into two identical copies. The main steps in replication are:
  • Unwinding of the DNA molecule
  • Bonding of complementary nucleotides
  • Splitting of the DNA molecules into two strands
  • Supercoiling of the newly replicated DNA
During the replication process, one of the original strands is conserved and the new strand is formed through the complementary nucleotides joining together.

This gives rise to the term “semi-conservative” replication.

Why is Replication Called Semi-Conservative?

Replication is called semi-conservative because only one strand of the double strands of the original DNA is conserved during the replication process, while the other new strand is formed with complementary nucleotides.

This means that one of the DNA strands is “conservative”, while the other is “semi-conservative”. The first scientific experiment to prove semi-conservative replication was done in 1958 by biologist Matthew Meselson and geneticist Frank W. Stahl.

They used a technique called densitometry to separate heavy and light DNA strands and observed whether the resulting daughter strand was identical to the parental strand.


Replication is an essential process of life and one of the main steps is semi-conservative replication.

During this process, only one of the strands is conserved and the other new strand is made through complementary nucleotides. In 1958, Meselson and Stahl proved this process scientifically. This article has discussed why replication is called semi-conservative in-depth. Citation URL: https://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Replication_(genetics) https://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Meselson_and_Stahl_Experiment

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