A molecular method of genetic analysis that allows individuals to be identified based on unique patterns of restriction enzyme cutting in specific regions of DNA. The technique takes advantage of the polymorphisms in individual people's genetic codes. Even though all members of a species have essentially the same genetic makeup, these slight differences account for variations in phenotype (i.e. appearance, metabolism etc.) between individuals.
RFLP methodology involves cutting a particular region of DNA with known variability, with restriction enzymes, then separating the DNA fragments by agarose gel electrophoresis and determining the number of fragments and relative sizes. The pattern of fragment sizes will differ for each individual tested.
RFLP is one technique used by forensic scientists in DNA fingerprinting. It is also used for tracing ancestry, studying evolution and migration of wildlife, and detection and diagnosis of certain diseases.