Those Dinky Amigos are an incredibly useful bunch. They can be used help solve criminal cases by identifying a perpetrator. They can identify relationships between current family members or ancestors. They can survive long after their host has died. In this case it is just as well.
A woman in Spain claims she is the illegitimate daughter of the painter and surrealist Salvador Dali who died in 1989. Her mother supposedly had an affair with Dali which resulted in her birth in 1956. If proven correct, she will be his only known child and may claim up to one quarter of his estate from the Spanish Government.
Salvador Dali’s body has been exhumed and DNA samples taken from his teeth and bones by the coroners. Samples of hair taken in 2007 yielded inconclusive results. Once the DNA is purified, specific marker regions can be fished out of the genomes of both the woman making the claim, and Dali himself.
Markers are specific strings of Dinky Amigos which bind to complementary sequences within the genome. Once they have bound, these regions can be amplified to produce a larger volume for analysis. These markers differ between individuals by their size. Someone may have lots of repetitions of the marker. Someone else may only have a few. Unless two people are related, it is highly unlikely that their markers will all be a similar length. The amplified markers are separated by size. The markers with the least repeats move faster. The longer sequences move slower.
This separation is then visualised – producing black bands.
A child inherits half of its DNA from its mother, and half from its father. In paternity testing where all parties (mother, father and child) are tested, 50% of the bands should match those of the mother, and 50% those of the father. In cases where only the paternal DNA is tested, more reliable results are achieved by testing with a greater number of markers. No matching bands would suggest no biological connection.
Dali is possibly best known for his painting “The Persistence of Memory”. Maybe “The persistence of DNA” will add a new chapter to the unusual and surreal life of this artist.