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DNA testing times

Genetics as it applies to evolution, molecular biology, and medical aspects.

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DNA testing times

Postby PixieDiva » Thu Apr 10, 2014 9:38 pm

Hello all... Thank you in advance for any help! :D
I am writing a fantasy/sci-fi book and have some questions about what can and cannot be determined by looking at DNA. My first, and more practical question: how long does it take to find something out when looking at a DNA sample. If you are a geneticist, with unlimited access to equipment, funds, time, etc How long would it take for you to tell, for instance, if two people are related, or if two err... creatures are related. (it's fantasy, after all... lol) I have spent a lot of time looking for this information online, but all I can find is how long a company would take to send your results back, not really how long the testing actually takes...
I have many more questions but this one determines the flow of the story so it's kind of urgent...

Thanks again, I promise to thank you all extensively, if I ever get published. :wink:
(Sorry if this is not the right place for this question, any pointers in the direction of information would be greatly appreciated too...)
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Postby jonmoulton » Fri Apr 11, 2014 2:47 pm

I'm not doing this stuff these days, so you should find a better source for confirmation. In general the process involves:
(1) sample preparation
(2) running an assay
(3) analysis

The time required will depend on what sort of information you need and therefore what assay you would need to perform, which determines the sample prep steps and the time needed for analysis.

Sample prep might take a half-hour, shorter if the lab is set up to do that sort of process routinely. You can get a PCR-based analysis done in a working day, though the PCR thermal-cycling machine can be set up and left to run overnight. For most DNA methods, whether PCR or blot, an hour is much too short. The time required for analysis will depend on how much information the assay provides and how complex a question you are trying to answer.

If you are checking two organisms to see whether they are the same species, AND if one of the organisms is known to be a particular species AND if the lab has a proven PCR primer set specific for that species and has previously run some assays using that primer set, then the analysis is fairly straightforward - just see if the PCR output matches (within normal variation) for the two organisms tested.

OK, someone else's turn...
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Postby JackBean » Wed Jun 25, 2014 12:28 pm

First, science aside, do not confuse fantasy and sci-fi. Those are quite distinct genres.
Second, is it in the future or in some society more developed than ours?
Third, are you looking for speed or precision?

Cis or trans? That's what matters.
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