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Urine samples and DNA testing

Updated on March 12, 2014

Can it be used for a paternity DNA Test?

There are many DNA samples that can be used for a paternity test. People often inquire about urine and whether one can use this sample for a paternity test. You might wish to know more about this sample to understand why this sample is not suitable for this test and other alternative sample that can perhaps be used.

Urine samples: Is there any DNA in it?

Urine samples are not used for DNA testing whether it is for a paternity DNA test or any other DNA test. DNA testing is highly accurate and reliable however, the type of sample used in a paternity test plays a very important role in determining the feasibility of the test.

What is the difference between Urine DNA sample and, for example, blood or saliva?

Urine is not a high success DNA sample because it does not contain cells (remember DNA is found in all nucleated cells in our body and no cells means no DNA). Even if urine does contain some cells, their concentration in it is very low. Urine is made up of 3 main components:

95% water

Urea

Uric acid

Depending on what you have drank or eaten there may be other chemicals and metabolites, for example ammonia and alcohol.

Urine is produced by the kidneys through the filtration of blood. During the filtration of blood some DNA fragments can find their way into our urine and some cells may be collected as one micturates (urinates). However, cells or DNA are not considered to be a natural constituent of urine and thus, DNA present in urine will often not suffice for a paternity DNA test.

Blood, on the other hand, is a highly successful sample because blood is made up cells. In fact, blood components are the following:

Red blood cells (non-nucleated and thus, containing no DNA)

White blood cells (nucleated and thus, contain DNA)

Blood plasma (yellowish matrix in which blood cells are suspended; contains no DNA)

Saliva DNA samples collected using a mouth swab will remove, through the friction caused by the rubbing action, cheek cells which detach themselves by the thousands with a single swipe; cheek cells are a type of cell known as epithelial cells and contain DNA.

Both blood (especially a medical blood draw) and a saliva sample gathered with a swab are high success rate samples.

So I can't use urine for my DNA paternity Test?

Urine can be used for your DNA paternity test. However, it is a very low success rate sample. There is a good chance that laboratory analysis may not be able to extract enough DNA to do the test. You may be able to choose advanced discreet sample testing which would mean using DNA testing techniques that are not used in standard DNA testing. Advanced testing is used when samples are likely degraded or offer an extremely low success rate and thus, paternity DNA testing using such samples would not be conclusive under standard laboratory conditions.

Advanced testing entails a considerable added cost. If you have absolutely no other sample to use, laboratories may offer the possibility to carry out advanced testing. Make sure to be fully advised if you are thinking of using a urine DNA sample for the DNA test.

Ideally, the urine sample should be freshly urinated- this already creates a problem as there is a lot of time lost between collecting the sample and the sample arriving at the laboratory. Urine collected from the toilet bowl will most definitely be unsuitable as there are often cleaning chemicals and disinfectants already in the water that will degrade the DNA. Most DNA testing companies will not test urine.

DNA samples for DNA testing - how to store them?

Special Techniques used for analysis DNA
Special Techniques used for analysis DNA

Different DNA samples have different methods of sampling and storage. You have to be well aware of exactly how to collect samples (for example, if you are thinking of using hair, you will need the root attached and if you are thinking of sending in a sweaty top you would need to make sure that this was in direct contact with the skin and not a second layer of clothing). Moreover, how you store the sample is important. If you are using an oral mouth swab for DNA testing or a used Kleenex, you need to allow these to dry before sealing them into an envelope as fungal spores may germinate if left humid.

With DNA in urine there could be some problems. Besides the fact that many times it is just DNA fragments that are presents, urine is acidic and if left to stand bacteria begin to act on it creating other corrosive chemicals like ammonia which could cause the DNA to degrade; this would make the sample unlikely useful to conclude your paternity DNA test.

PCR - Polymerase chain reaction

A method of amplification and replication of DNA that makes is possible for scientists to work with tiny samples of DNA, for example, the DNA found in a minute stain on a fragment of old cloth.

Forensic DNA analysis

Forensic DNA analysis is a very interesting branch of genetics and DNA testing. Understanding how DNA is extracted from different samples and how external conditions impact the structure of DNA, perhaps making the sample in question unusable is just the tip of the iceberg in this complex science.

Any comments and feedback are always welcome, thanks :)

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      lonewolf 4 months ago

      im dealing with a civil case and want to know if you can help. story"a lady was so druck that she passed out on my new couch and urinated alot on it. soaked two of three cushins about a year ago. in need to know if her urine can some how be collected and tested to identify it to be hers.

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      john9229 4 years ago

      I'm learned something new on your lens. Thanks for the information about urine samples and DNA testing

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      anonymous 4 years ago

      Thanks for explaining why urine samples do not work for DNA testing. DNA testing is something I have never really understood before, thanks for sharing!

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      dellgirl 4 years ago

      What a great lens, itâs so full of helpful information. Thank you for sharing, I learned a lot.