"This is an exciting way to explain the complexity of the human gene, at this magnification someone would have to travel 15 times around the earth to traverse the whole length of the genome." Sir John Sulston
Genome Stripes by Katy Hallett
This section of the National Cycle Network links Addenbrooke's Hospital with the community of Great Shelford and marks the 10,000th mile of the National Cycle Network, opened in September 2005 by Sir John Sulston. The work on this route celebrates the role of the nearby Sanger Institute in decoding the vital human gene BRCA2.
BRCA2 is just one of the 30,000 genes in the human genome and plays an important role in our bodies. It produces a protein that helps to repair human DNA. However, variants of it can cause breast cancer in women who carry them.
A series of stripes in four colours representing the 10,257 genetic letters, or bases, of the gene BRCA2 have been laid on the path using thermoplastic strips heat welded onto the tarmac. It is the sequence of the four bases colour coded - adenine (A) in green, cytosine (C) in blue, guanine (G) in yellow and thymine (T) in red - that contains the code for life. As visitors cycle or walk over these stripes they will be traversing a portion of their own genome.
Four species of trees were also been planted at intervals along the route to improve the local environment and to represent the colours of the four genome bases; Yew 'Taxus Baccata' (green), Rowan 'Sorbus Sheerwater-seedling' (blue), Crab Apple 'Malus Rudolph' (yellow), and Cherry 'Prunus cerasifera 'nigra'' (red).
Double Helix by Katy Hallett
The human genome is wound into a double helix structure, a copy of which lies within each cell of the body. To mark the threshold at each end of the path a replica of the Double Helix structure has been enlarged to approximately 750,000,000 times.
Plan your trip to visit these artworks by foot or by bike on the Great Shelford Cycle Route.
Discover other Sustrans Art Trails around the UK.
This project has been made possible by the generous support of the Wellcome Trust and Cambridgeshire County Council and Surface Signs.