DNA profiling of criminals is sometimes referred to as "DNA fingerprinting" due to the analogy it draws with traditional fingerprinting. Here are a few reasons why this terminology is used:
Unique Identification: Just like fingerprints, DNA profiles are unique to individuals (except identical twins). The DNA profile obtained from an individual can be considered as a molecular "fingerprint" that is highly specific to that person. The term "DNA fingerprinting" highlights the individuality and uniqueness of the DNA profiles generated.
Forensic Application: DNA profiling, particularly in the context of criminal investigations, is used to link suspects or individuals to crime scenes. Similarly, fingerprints have long been used in forensics as a means of identifying individuals and linking them to criminal activities. Using the term "DNA fingerprinting" emphasizes the forensic aspect and investigative utility of DNA profiling.
Public Understanding: The term "DNA fingerprinting" was initially coined by geneticist Sir Alec Jeffreys, the inventor of DNA profiling, when he first developed the technique. The term was chosen to help the public understand the concept of DNA profiling by drawing a parallel to the widely recognized and understood concept of fingerprinting.
Visual Analogy: In both traditional fingerprinting and DNA profiling, visual patterns are analyzed for identification purposes. Fingerprinting involves examining the unique patterns of ridges and furrows on a person's fingertips, while DNA profiling involves analyzing the distinct banding patterns or peaks in gel electrophoresis or other separation techniques. The term "DNA fingerprinting" highlights this visual analogy between the two methods.
While the terms "DNA profiling" and "DNA fingerprinting" are often used interchangeably, "DNA fingerprinting" is more commonly associated with criminal investigations and the forensic application of DNA profiling.