Recreating DNA. Recreating a deceased person or animal’s DNA has required that DNA be extracted from the remains of the individual, but a new study has shown that may not be the only way.
The DNA of a man who died nearly 200 years ago has been recreated from his living descendants rather than his physical remains – something that has never been done before.
DeCODE Genetics a biopharmaceutical company in Iceland, achieved this feat by taking DNA samples from 182 Icelandic descendants of Hans Jonatan, a man who is quite an icon in Iceland, most well known for having freed himself from slavery in a heroic series of seemingly impossible events.
DeCODE used DNA screened from 182 relatives, first reconstructing 38 percent of Jonatan’s mother Emilia’s DNA. Published in Nature Genetics, this elaborate study began with a whopping 788 of Jonatan’s known descendants, but was able to be narrowed down to 182 through DNA screening against known markers.
Theoretically, a technique like this could help researchers create “Virtual ancient DNA,” which would allow scientists to recreate the DNA of historical figures. The quantity, scale, and detail of the DNA from living ancestors required to recreate a person’s DNA make it impractical for use within most families.
With each new generation identifiable DNA fragments get smaller and more difficult to work with.