What Is DNA Sequencing Used For?

dna-sequencing-used Credit: Robert Couse-Baker/Flickr/CC-BY-2.0

DNA sequencing is used to identify individual genes within the DNA of any organism. This information can be used to identify variants and mutations that cause diseases and disorders.

The process of DNA sequencing is used today by researchers and physicians around the world. This is due in large part to the success of a research project known as the Human Genome Project, which began its work in 1990. The HGP sought to map all three billion base pairs of the human genome, according to the National Human Genome Research Institute.

Automatic sequencing machines read electrophoresis gels, resulting in faster and more accurate DNA sequencing. These machines can produce a rough draft of a DNA sequence of 20,000 to 50,000 bases in a few hours. First-generation DNA sequencing technology employed the Maxam-Gilbert method and the Sanger method. Finishing is a method that involves the final assembly of the raw sequences that come out of the sequencing machines. Newer sequencing technologies have made it possible to sequence the genomes of several organisms, including the mouse, the rat, a malaria-carrying mosquito and mustard weed.

Scientists can use sequence information to determine which sections of DNA contain genes. Scientists can analyze those genes for mutations that may cause disease. The sequencing of the human genome has given scientists a blueprint of the human being, allowing them to find answers for complex biological processes, including how a baby forms from a single cell, how the human brain works, and how genes regulate tissue and organ functions.

Genetic sequencing methods have helped scientists to discover more than 1,800 disease-causing genes and to create more than 2,000 genetic tests to identify medical conditions, according to the National Institute of Health.