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How does 23andMe genotype my DNA?

Once our lab receives your sample, DNA is extracted from cells contained in your saliva. The lab then copies the DNA many times—a process called amplification—duplicating the tiny amount extracted from your saliva until there is enough to be genotyped.

In order to be genotyped, the amplified DNA is “cut” into smaller pieces, which are then applied to our DNA chip (also known as a microarray), a small glass slide with millions of microscopic “beads” on its surface. Each bead is attached to a “probe," a bit of DNA that matches one of the genetic variants that we test. The cut pieces of your DNA stick to the matching DNA probes. A fluorescent label on each probe identifies which version of that genetic variant your DNA corresponds to.

The following video gives you a behind-the-scenes look at some of these steps taking place at our lab:


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