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Genetic differences between "identical" twins discovered


December 10, 2013

A new test is able to genetically discriminate between "identical" twins (Photo: Shutterstock)

A new test is able to genetically discriminate between "identical" twins (Photo: Shutterstock)

Although they only account for around three in every thousand deliveries, monozygotic, or "identical" twins are fertile fodder for crime writers and cop shows. This isn't surprising considering that DNA fingerprint testing is not able to genetically differentiate between the good and evil twin. But now German-based company Eurofins MWG Operon says it has found a way to do just that.

Scientists from Eurofins, a genomic services company specializing in forensics and paternity testing, sequenced DNA from sperm samples provided by two identical twins and a blood sample of the child of one twin. They found five mutations, known as Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs), in the child and the father, but not in the twin uncle. This finding was confirmed using Sanger sequencing.

The scientists say this provides experimental evidence for the hypothesis that rare mutations will occur early after or before the twins originate with the splitting of the human blastocyst in two, and that these mutations will be carried on into somatic tissue and the germ line.

Eurofins, which is the first company to offer such a test, says it should prove useful in forensic and paternity cases involving monozygotic twins.

The team's study appears in the journal Forensic Science International: Genetics.

Source: Eurofins

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag. All articles by Darren Quick

How many twins did they test?


Slowburn it sounds like they just tested 1 pair of twins It shows that their hypothesis has merit though and they need to perform further experiments to confirm it

Mack McDowell

@ Mack McDowell That was the point. At this point they have a plausible theory but it needs more research.


It's interesting how much is touted as certain about DNA testing when so much is yet unknown. It will be interesting to see what the next few years will bring. When many more full DNA analyses become available, I suspect we will all be more individual than currently thought.

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