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DNA Fingerprinting in Zoology: Past, Present, Future


DNA Fingerprinting in Zoology: Past, Present, Future

Geoffrey K Chambers et al. Investig Genet.


In 1962, Thomas Kuhn famously argued that the progress of scientific knowledge results from periodic 'paradigm shifts' during a period of crisis in which new ideas dramatically change the status quo. Although this is generally true, Alec Jeffreys' identification of hypervariable repeat motifs in the human beta-globin gene, and the subsequent development of a technology known now as 'DNA fingerprinting', also resulted in a dramatic shift in the life sciences, particularly in ecology, evolutionary biology, and forensics. The variation Jeffreys recognized has been used to identify individuals from tissue samples of not just humans, but also of many animal species. In addition, the technology has been used to determine the sex of individuals, as well as paternity/maternity and close kinship. We review a broad range of such studies involving a wide diversity of animal species. For individual researchers, Jeffreys' invention resulted in many ecologists and evolutionary biologists being given the opportunity to develop skills in molecular biology to augment their whole organism focus. Few developments in science, even among the subsequent genome discoveries of the 21st century, have the same wide-reaching significance. Even the later development of PCR-based genotyping of individuals using microsatellite repeats sequences, and their use in determining multiple paternity, is conceptually rooted in Alec Jeffreys' pioneering work.


Figure 1
Figure 1
Minisatellite repeat units are characterized by an approximate 16 bp core sequence in humans and other animals. (A) A core minisatellite repeat is present at three loci. (B) The number of minisatellite repeats at these loci are shown for one individual (the mother) who is heterozygous at each of the three loci. Locus 1 genotype: 5, 2; locus 2 genotype: 7, 3; and locus 3 genotype: 8, 1. (C) Representation of an autoradiograph showing restriction fragment profiles of four individuals at these three loci. At each locus in the child’s profile, one allele is shared with the mother and the other is shared with the father, as would be expected when maternity and paternity have been correctly identified. Note that the unrelated individual shares only a small number of bands with the individuals from this family.
Figure 2
Figure 2
Sexing and paternity in skuas. (A) An adult south polar skua (Catharacta maccormicki; above) and an adult brown skua (C. lonnbergi; below).(B) Multilocus DNA fingerprints resulting from hybridization of probe pV47–2 to genomic DNA from male and female brown skua digested with the restriction enzyme HaeIII [14]. Arrows indicate two sex-linked DNA fragments that are present in females but absent in males. (C) Multilocus DNA fingerprints of three south polar skua families with the proposed relationships indicated above. DNA fragments that cannot be attributed to either putative parent (resident at the nest) are indicated by arrows.
Figure 3
Figure 3
Multilocus and single locus DNA fingerprinting in the pukeko. (A) The pukeko or purple swamphen (Porphyrio porphyrio) is a communal breeder. (B) Multilocus DNA fingerprinting profiles of pukeko belonging to a communal group. Genomic DNA was digested with the restriction enzyme HaeIII and hybridized to the probe pV47–2. (C) Single locus DNA profiles detected in pukeko using the minisatellite probe YNH24 [26]. Arrows indicated the four alleles detected and the genotype of each individual is given above.

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Cited by 3 PubMed Central articles


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