The development of DNA sequencing technologies has revolutionized biology and medicine. DNA sequencing is an essential component of multiple biological disciplines, including basic and therapeutic research and medical diagnostics. Thus, developing an understanding of this technology will enable students to understand a fundamental component of current and future biology.
In the laboratory, molecular biologists and biochemists depend heavily on the ability to sequence both small and large segments of DNA. Modern research frequently depends on the ability to clone specific segments of DNA. Either before or after cloning the DNA can be sequenced to check for completeness and accuracy, ensuring that the scientist has created what they intended to generate.
Evolutionary and developmental biologists have similarly used DNA sequencing to examine variation across generations. The sequenced DNA can provide clues about similarities and differences between species and can link divergent species. Developmental biologists can identify specific genes involved in the early development of an organism, and can use DNA sequences to compare homologs in related species to identify unique gene regulation.
DNA sequencing has additionally become an essential component of medical diagnostics. Doctors and researchers can sequence patient samples to diagnose mutations within the DNA, identifying specific drug targets. In addition, DNA sequencing can be used to single out heredity diseases, helping doctors to provide counseling and preventative care.