Minute quantities of DNA, including ancient DNA, from sources such as hair, bones and other tissues can be amplified using PCR. The DNA can then be identified and analysed, and genomes can be sequenced. These processes allow scientists to further their knowledge and understanding of evolution and paleontology. Genome sequencing can also aid in phylogenetic studies, leading to greater understanding of organisms’ evolutionary relationships to each other. This information can be useful to scientists in supporting conservation efforts, studying evolution and understanding unique adaptations.
The Science Learning Hub has several articles highlighting New Zealand examples of research in this area, for example,
Extracting ancient DNA, Wētā poo and DNA, New Zealand Subantarctic Islands coralline algae, Barcoding New Zealand swamp hens, DNA barcoding, DNA sequencing, Sequencing shark DNA and Sequencing the apple genome.
Working for good:
How do you think a better understanding of genetics can help with conservation?
Image courtesy of Bence Viola, Max Planck Institute