Following a severe accident, many charred-disfigured bodies are
recovered from the site making the identification of the dead very
difficult. Name and explain the technique that would help the authorities
to establish the identity of the dead to be able to hand over the dead to
their respective relatives.

The technique that will help that  authorities to establish the identity of the dead is known as DNA finger printing.


  • DNA fingerprinting is a method for comparing the DNA sequences of any two individuals.

  • 99.9% of the base sequences in all human beings are identical. It is the remaining 0.1% that makes every individual unique.

  • It is a really difficult and time-consuming task to sequence and compare all 3 × 109 bases in two individuals. So, instead of considering the entire genome, certain specific regions called repetitive DNA sequences are used for comparative study.

Basis of DNA Fingerprinting

  • Repetitive DNA is separated from bulk genomic DNA since it appears as a distinct peak during density gradient centrifugation.

  • Major peak: Formed by bulk DNA
    Smaller peak: Satellite DNA

  • Satellites are of two types—micro-satellites and mini satellites, depending upon the base composition, length of segment and the number of repetitive units.

  • Satellites do not code for proteins, but have a major role to play in DNA fingerprinting.

  • Polymorphism is actually a result of mutation. A germ cell mutation (which can pass on to the next generation through sexual reproduction) gives rise to polymorphism in populations.

  • In other words, an inheritable mutation if observed in higher frequencies in a population is known as polymorphism.

  • Polymorphisms arise normally in non-coding sequences because mutations in non-coding sequences do not affect an individual’s reproductive ability.

Methodology of DNA fingerprinting
  • VNTR (variable number of tandem repeats) are satellite DNAs that show high degree of polymorphism.

  • VNTRs are used as probes in DNA fingerprinting.

  • First of all, DNA from an individual is isolated and cut with restriction

  • Fragments are separated according to their size and molecular weight on gel electrophoresis.

  • Fragments separated on electrophoresis gel are blotted (immobilised) on a synthetic membrane such as nylon or nitrocellulose.

  • Immobilised fragments are hybridised with a VNTR probe.

  • Hybridised DNA fragments can be detected by autoradiography.

  • VNTRs vary in size from 0.1 to 20 kb.

  • Hence, in the autoradiogram, band of different sizes will be obtained.

  • These bands are characteristic for an individual. They are different in each individual, except identical twins.


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