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Analysis - molecular

Looking at the DNA from an animal or plant allows us to investigate how different organisms are related. Increasingly researchers are looking at the DNA of organisms to distinguish one species from another.

Comparative DNA sequences for three species of parasitic blood fluke

Genes are made up of DNA. Scientists analyse genes by taking a sample of DNA from an organism and sequencing it. We can compare these sequences to look at the similarities and differences between species. The more similar the sequences are, the more closely the organisms are related.

This kind of molecular analysis is adding a new type of knowledge to our collections, increasing the number of ways that our specimens can be used.

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Learn more about malaria and DNA Malaria and DNA

What is special about specimens? Why are they different from other kinds of object?

Many research projects have come from a casual remark at a conference planting the seed of an idea in a member of the audience.

Analysis - molecular

When analysing gene fragments, scientists usually use a technique called electrophoresis. This produces results in a visual way, making comparisons of gene sequences easier.

Analysis - computing power

Computers have transformed analysis of the groupings of organisms. Numerical analysis that would take months, or years, by hand is now carried out in minutes by desktop computers.

Imagine trying to use evidence from many different analytical tools to work out the possible relationships between a number of species. How many different options will there be to test?