DNALC experiments featured in the documentary Race – The Power of an Illusion

See exerpts from the documentary, produced by California Newsreel, that show DNALC instructor, Scott Bronson, working with students to examine their mitochondrial DNA.



This site provides biochemical methods and computer tools to allow students to use their own DNA "fingerprints" as a starting point in the study of human evolution. Two experiments are currently available, which are supported by reagents and ready-to-use kits available from Carolina Biological Supply Company.



Mitochondrial (mt) Point Mutations are single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) detected in the ring-shaped chromosome found in the cell's energy-producing organelle. Mutations are common in mt DNA, in large part due to exposure to oxygen free radicals generated as a by-product of respiration. Mitochondrial mutations can be used to retrace the common maternal lineage of modern humans and to determine our relationship to the extinct hominid Neandertal.

Alu Insertion Polymorphism detects the presence or absence of a "jumping gene" on chromosome 16. This simple genetic system has only two alleles and three genotypes. Despite this simplicity, allele frequencies vary greatly in different world populations. Alternate explanations about the causes of this variation are consistent with opposing theories of the origins of modern humans.

Supported by:
Biogen Idec Foundation
The William A. Haseltine Foundation for Medical Sciences and the Arts
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
National Science Foundation
Department of Energy
Roche Molecular Systems
Applied Biosystems

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Kits available from Carolina Biological Supply Company.

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