Is there a genetic basis to race?
Examining human variation and ancestry using mtDNA
Learn about the role of mitochondrial DNA in human ancestry. First, students isolate their cheek cell DNA using a saline mouthwash. After PCR amplification of their mitochondrial control region, students set up cycle sequencing reactions for their mitochondrial control region. The subsequent sequencing procedures are done at California State University East Bay. Students learn how to analyze sequence data using single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), and they determine their DNA haplogroup. They can upload their results to National Geographic’s Genographic Project and fine out which branch of the human family tree they belong to.
Intermediate to Advanced: This lesson provides a personal connection to how science can be used to examine ancestry and human migration. The nature of this experiment does not invade privacy issues since it examines ancestry from 20-40,000 years ago. This lesson is appropriate for biology, anthropology or biotechnology courses.