AAT Bioquest

What are the applications of PCR?

Posted August 14, 2023


PCR is a molecular biology technique used for amplifying a specific DNA region to be used in many different applications. Some of the more common applications of PCR include: 

Clinical Diagnosis 

Its sensitivity, specificity, and high amplification speed make PCR very useful in the diagnosis of a wide range of diseases and infections including genetic diseases, retroviral infections such as HIV, bacterial infections such as tuberculosis, and virally induced cancers such as cervical cancer, which is caused by human papilloma virus.

Forensic Analysis

PCR-based DNA fingerprinting is widely used by forensic scientists and criminal investigators for genetic fingerprinting, DNA testing, and DNA typing. In this technique, a single DNA molecule obtained from any source such as hair, blood, or semen is amplified using PCR. This amplified sample is easier to test. DNA fingerprinting is also used in paternity testing.

Genetic Research

PCR has enabled scientists to make huge inroads in genetic research. In genetic research, PCR is used to study gene expression patterns, assist in techniques such as DNA sequencing, and chromosomal analysis techniques, which help in early detection of inherited birth diseases. It also helps detect sex-linked disorders in fertilized embryos.

Gene Cloning

PCR is more efficient, more cost effective, and faster than traditional techniques for gene cloning. It also requires smaller quantities of starting material (DNA) and minimum technical skill. All of these attributes make PCR the preferred technique for gene cloning.  

Environmental Microbiology

PCR has many applications in environmental microbiology including but not limited to detection of water-borne microbial pathogens, indicator bacteria such as coliforms in water supplies, and degrading microorganisms in toxic waste and pollutants. 

Additional resources

The applications of the polymerase chain reaction in the life sciences

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)

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