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DNA Profiling in Ecology

  1. Matthew J Hamilton,
  2. Michael J Sadowsky

Published Online: 15 NOV 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005454.pub2



How to Cite

Hamilton, M. J. and Sadowsky, M. J. 2010. DNA Profiling in Ecology. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. University of Minnesota, St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 NOV 2010


Deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) profiling uses various molecular biological techniques to identify, classify, and study the ecology and evolution of organisms based on differences in DNA sequence. These differences in DNA sequence are known as polymorphisms, which may be as simple as a single nucleotide at a given nucleotide position within the genome or as complex as variant numbers of tandem repeat sequences or the presence of an interspersed repetitive element. Individuals, populations or species-specific DNA polymorphisms are used as targets to generate fingerprint patterns suitable for the differentiation of individuals and populations. Data generated by DNA profiling methods are used to provide quantitative or qualitative information for population genetics, human diseases, diversity, phylogeny, epidemiological, forensics and conservation management purposes.

Key Concepts:

  • DNA profiling methodologies allow for the classification of organisms based on polymorphisms in DNA sequences at a given loci.

  • DNA profiling methods that can be used to detect single nucleotide and repetitive element polymorphisms include: amplified and restriction fragment length polymorphisms (AFLP/RFLP), multilocus fingerprinting using hybridisation, random amplified polymorphic DNA and denaturing gradient and pulse field gel electrophoresis (DGGE/PFGE).

  • DNA profiling patterns can be used to identify individuals, determine kinship and genealogy, examine inbreeding, and bottlenecks and differentiate populations.


  • DNA profiling;
  • DNA fingerprinting;
  • ecology;
  • repetitive DNA;
  • microsatellite;
  • minisatellite;
  • VNTR;
  • RAPD;
  • AFLP;
  • Rep-PCR