Lithium ion induced stabilization of the liquid crystalline DNA

Neethu Sundaresan, Thresia Thomas, Thekkumkat John Thomas, Chennakkatu Krishna Saolashiuan Pillai

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


A comparative study of the effects of alkali metal ions Li+, Na+, K+, Rb+, and Cs+ on the liquid crystalline organization of high-molecular-weight calf thymus DNA using polarized light microscopy was performed. Major differences in the behavior of Li+ as compared to the other ions were found. Critical DNA concentration expected to exhibit anisotropic behavior was found to be the same for all the monovalent ions, except for Li+. DNA initially showed cholesteric textures, which later changed to higher ordered columnar phase for all ions, with the cholesteric-columnar transition facilitated upon increasing the size of the counter-ion. For Li+ ion, a nematic schlieren-like texture was formed initially, which after a few days changed to a highly stable (for more than 2 months) biphasic cholesteric-columnar arrangement. The observed differences between Li+ and other alkali metal ions could be rationalized on the basis of the higher number of hydration water molecules of Li+ and its complexation behavior. Highly stable DNA mesophases may find applications in the field of nanoelectronics, in designing biosensing units, and in DNA chips.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-32
Number of pages6
JournalMacromolecular Bioscience
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 5 2006

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomaterials
  • Polymers and Plastics
  • Materials Chemistry


  • Cholesteric
  • Columnar hexagonal
  • Liquid crystalline DNA
  • Lithium ion
  • Polarized light microscopy
  • Schlieren


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