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DNA Diagnostics Centre Problem Solving Exercise

The DNA Diagnostics Centre problem solving exercise is created to inform DNA testing consumers about the various ways DNA testing is used to verify paternity, provide identification, and solve crimes.

The first aspect in this exercise reveals how the DNA profiles of a mother and father can be used to determine who their biological child is. The second aspect reveals how DNA profiles can be analysed to solve a crime. The third aspect is used to assist individuals to understand what things contain DNA, and those things that do not contain DNA.

The answers are detailed below each question listed below.


Which child (in Figure 2) belongs to the parents (in Figure 1)?

Everyone has a unique DNA profile. By analysing several different locations of DNA, a pattern is formed that makes you unique to everyone else. Its important to note that each individual receives approximately half of their DNA from their mother and father.

Viewing the DNA profiles below, can you decide which child (in Box 2) belongs to the mother and father (in Box 1)?

Figure 1: The parents' DNA profiles

Mother's DNA
Locus 1: 10 12
Locus 2: 12 16
Locus 3: 24 28
Locus 4: 16 19
Father's DNA
Locus 1: 11 15
Locus 2: 10 14
Locus 3: 25 27
Locus 4: 15 19

Figure 2: The DNA profiles of three children

Christina's DNA
Locus 1: 10 15
Locus 2: 12 14
Locus 3: 24 27
Locus 4: 16 19
Katie's DNA
Locus 1: 11 14
Locus 2: 10 15
Locus 3: 25 29
Locus 4: 16 17
Billy's DNA
Locus 1: 14 16
Locus 2: 11 17
Locus 3: 23 29
Locus 4: 17 20

Correct Answer: The mother and father listed above are Christina’s parents. Billy and Katie have different parents. At Locus 1, Christina got the 10 from her mother and the 15 from her father. At the other Loci, can you determine which markers Christina received from her mother and which she received from her father?


Whose DNA is on the jewellery case?

As everyone has a unique DNA profile, when people touch things they can leave evidence of their DNA that can link them to the location. DNA evidence is often used to solve crimes by determining if someone was at the scene of a crime.

For example, after some jewellery were taken from a jewellery box, the box was tested for DNA. Below you can see the DNA profile that was found on the jewellery box. Billy, Christina and Katie state that they have never touched the jewellery box.

By comparing the DNA profile on the jewellery box (Box 3) with the DNA profiles for Billy, Christina, and Katie (Box 4), can you work out who touched the jewellery box?

Box 3: The DNA profile found on the jewellery box

DNA on the jewellery box
Locus 1: 11 14
Locus 2: 10 15
Locus 3: 25 29
Locus 4: 16 17

Box 4: The DNA profiles of three children

Christina's DNA
Locus 1: 10 15
Locus 2: 12 14
Locus 3: 24 27
Locus 4: 16 19
Katie's DNA
Locus 1: 11 14
Locus 2: 10 15
Locus 3: 25 29
Locus 4: 16 17
Billy's DNA
Locus 1: 14 16
Locus 2: 11 17
Locus 3: 23 29
Locus 4: 17 20

Answer: Katie's DNA matches the DNA found on the jewellery box.


Which items listed below contain DNA, and which do not?

Can you work out which of the following contain DNA and which do not? Remember: DNA is in all living things. (Clue: 9 of the items below have DNA, and 9 do not)

Cat
Dog
Car
House
Chair
Tree
Mouse
Fork
Flower

Fish
Bus
Airplane
Truck
Monkey
Computer
Snake
Bug
Book



Answers: The cat, dog, fish, tree, mouse, flower, snake, monkey, and bug all contain DNA.

 

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