AAT Bioquest

What is PCR used for?

Posted February 13, 2023


PCR or Polymerase Chain Reaction is a technique used in molecular biology and biotechnology labs to create multiple copies of a target DNA segment. It is used in a wide range of specialized applications across diverse fields including: 

Medical – PCR is used to monitor genes in gene therapy, detect disease-causing genes in the parents, and test genetic disease mutations. It is also used to diagnose, treat, and potentially cure many diseases. 

Forensic Science – In forensic science, PCR is a crucial tool used in genetic fingerprinting and paternity tests. It also plays a key role in the identification of criminals from the organic evidence collected at the crime scene. 

Research and Genetics – PCR is used in gene mapping, analysis of gene expression, and comparing the genome of two organisms in genomic studies. It is also used in the phylogenetic analysis of DNA from fossils and other sources. 

Consumer Genomics – In this relatively new field, PCR is used to link genetic information to identify foods and products that may help to reduce or worsen certain conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease. 

Food and agriculture – PCR enables genetic code to be deliberately altered for the purpose of improving foods and food production. 

Environmental microbiology – PCR makes it easier to identify and quantify specific target species, even when they exist in very low numbers. This is widely used to detect pathogens such as coliforms in water supplies among other applications. 

Phylogenetics – PCR allows researchers to amplify, identify, and analyze minute quantities of ancient DNA, leading to a greater understanding of paleontology and evolution and a deeper insight into unique adaptations. 

Additional resources

The applications of the polymerase chain reaction in the life sciences

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)

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