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DNA Fingerprinting

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Areas of Science
Time Required
Average (6-10 days)
A basic understanding of molecular biology and access to a research laboratory with PCR and gel electrophoresis equipment are required for this project.
Material Availability
The kit required for this project can only be purchased through a school or educational business.
Very High (over $150)
Adult supervision is required in the laboratory facility.
*Note: For this science project you will need to develop your own experimental procedure. Use the information in the summary tab as a starting place. If you would like to discuss your ideas or need help troubleshooting, use the Ask An Expert forum. Our Experts won't do the work for you, but they will make suggestions and offer guidance if you come to them with specific questions.

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Are you interested in the technical and ethical aspects of genetic screening, forensic science, and DNA fingerprinting? Scientists use different forms of a gene, called alleles, to differentiate between two fingerprints. One such sequence used in human DNA fingerprinting is the Alu repeat (a 300 base pair repetitive sequence of DNA) on chromosome 16. During evolutionary time, up to 1 million copies of the Alu repeat have become randomly inserted throughout the human genome. Within a specific region on chromosome 16 called PV92, some of us carry an Alu repeat and some of us do not. Such small variations among individuals' genotypes are inherited. These variations are the raw material for natural selection and evolution. These subtle variations in our DNA also provide evidence about our ancestry and form the basis of personal identification via DNA fingerprinting.

An example of DNA fingerprinting is shown in Figure 1. You can investigate your own DNA fingerprint, and that of family members, using a Human Alu DNA Extraction and Amplification kit from our partners at Carolina Biological and basic biotechnology techniques like PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and gel electrophoresis. Which alleles are present in your family? Can you test a larger group of people and study population genetics? Do the alleles differ according to ancestry?

DNA fingerprints appear as dark blue lines in multiple columns on a light blue gel
Figure 1. This is an example of DNA fingerprinting made by staining DNA on a gel. (Photo courtesy of Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc.)
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Global Connections

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs) are a blueprint to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.
This project explores topics key to Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure: Build resilient infrastructure, promote sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.


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Science Buddies Staff. "DNA Fingerprinting." Science Buddies, 20 Nov. 2020, https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/BioChem_p022/biotechnology-techniques/dna-fingerprinting?from=Blog. Accessed 3 Dec. 2023.

APA Style

Science Buddies Staff. (2020, November 20). DNA Fingerprinting. Retrieved from https://www.sciencebuddies.org/science-fair-projects/project-ideas/BioChem_p022/biotechnology-techniques/dna-fingerprinting?from=Blog

Last edit date: 2020-11-20
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