I know that there are companies that offer a kit+storage of your pet DNA for around $2k. My question is if there is any other option for doing this yourself with a thought in mind that in 20+ years the technology will get so advanced that even this DIY sample can be utilized.

Any ideas? Maybe drying a blood drop or mixing blood with alcohol/acetone?

Also, I read somewhere that it is better if the pet is still very young, because if you take old pet DNA the clone will exhibit mature signs even as a youngster. Is this true? If yes then what is the top age that is safe?

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    $\begingroup$ Make it have babies? $\endgroup$
    – Spacey
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 0:33
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    $\begingroup$ Heard a news story a couple of days ago about a couple who had their dog cloned after it died. @leonardo Amy had some brief suggestions. Also your last paragraph might be better posed as a seperate quesiton. $\endgroup$
    – Rory M
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 8:06
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    $\begingroup$ @RegisteredUser Hmm. How else would you store DNA? Dehydration? As far as I know, freezing (at very low temperature, way below home appliance freezers) is what’s done in “professional” labs. $\endgroup$ Commented May 11, 2012 at 9:54
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    $\begingroup$ @leonardo DNA requires constant maintenance to remain 'stable' in your cells at 37 degrees, although DNA can be found in fossil remains, so a synthetic version of this may be theoretically possible. Typically we store extracted samples at -80 degrees celcius, which you're unlikely to be able to achieve at home, unless you invest in a specialist freezer - this is unlikely to be cheaper than the company the OP refers to. And RegisteredUser, I'm afraid that freezing is the only long-term option that I'm aware of! Certainly when you're considering 20 years $\endgroup$
    – Luke
    Commented May 11, 2012 at 15:34
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    $\begingroup$ preserving DNA for cloning is entirely a different issue than just any old DNA - making sure all the chromosomes are there and intact and useful for injection for in vitro insertion makes this a difficult question... $\endgroup$
    – shigeta
    Commented May 14, 2012 at 1:32

2 Answers 2


For the impatient, I'm going to say that probably if you only have a regular home freezer, its unlikely that you will be able to do this. If you have access to a -80C or liquid nitrogen storage its possible, but also less likely.

Cloning an animal typically starts with the transplantation of a nucleus into an egg cell whose nucleus has been removed. So unless things change drastically in the next 20 years, just purifying DNA and keeping it in a tube of the fridge is not enough - you need to preserve epithelial (skin cells) or some other tissue in a state which can be revived to produce a live and intact cell when you want to do the cloning.

Its possible that we will have machines that can take DNA from a DNA prep and produce a living cell - this is what we hope to do with the mammoth and other extinct animals from fossil tissue some day. But whether that will be the case in 20 years is just a guess, whether it is affordable is also just a guess.

So from what we know now, you will need to preserve a piece of tissue from the animal when it is alive. I'm not an expert on how to do this, but you might be able to get the skin cells to sort of turn into a cell line and then freeze them for not too much money.

If you do this, regular freezers are not cold enough to prevent freezer burn. This is what happens when you put a steak in to the freezer, wrapped in plastic even it will shrivel up and start to dry out as the water in the ice starts to sublime out of the package (the dry air in the freezer basically sucks the water out of the food). If this happens to your animal tissue, its probably not going to revive.

Scientific labs use -80C freezers and liquid nitrogen storage because the water turns into a glass and all biochemical reactions are basically stopped. (besides drying out, the enzymes like DNAse are still nominally functioning in the cells at -20C and even simple bacterial cells don't live for more than a year at -20C, much less mammalian cells). For preserving cell lines, liquid nitrogen is much more preferred. I would say that properly produced cell lines can theoretically revive after indefinite liquid nitrogen storage.

So that's a quick answer. Sorry to be a party pooper - things could change quite a bit in the next 20 years, but we just don't know how much. popping a paw in a baggie or some DNA extract into the freezer might work, but its hard to say for sure.

As far as the choice of where the DNA comes from in the animal, its true that skin cell lines are often producing imperfect animals - the DNA may be modified in the skin in various ways that cause the animal to be smaller, weaker, or even deformed compared to the donor. At this time all the protocols I see (and i could be wrong) are skin cells. I would expect that there is a better tissue to preserve, but that might be just a guess at this point. Its likely that in the next 20 years the choice of cell line from the donor will change quite a bit as well.

  • $\begingroup$ I don't have a -80C freezer and was hoping for some type of room temp preservation, but thanks anyway. $\endgroup$ Commented May 14, 2012 at 2:02
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    $\begingroup$ sorry I couldn't be more positive. we still have a ways to go before we are like "Bladerunner". i'm trying to help a biohacker lab get started and the cost of -80C refrigeration is a stumbling block to citizen bioscience. $\endgroup$
    – shigeta
    Commented May 14, 2012 at 2:18
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    $\begingroup$ Well if you are optimistic, which isn't outrageous, you could store some skin tissue taken from the pet. flash freeze in liquid N2, then seal it in a solid piece of plastic (keeping cold) and pop it in the freezer. Might work... store in the ice cube tray so that defrost cycles in the fridge don't heat the sample up. $\endgroup$
    – shigeta
    Commented May 14, 2012 at 17:32
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    $\begingroup$ Its possible that we will have machines that can take DNA from a DNA prep and produce a living cell... well, we can do that for bacteria! $\endgroup$
    – nico
    Commented May 15, 2012 at 18:08
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    $\begingroup$ If you believe that all you would need is a DNA sample, then I suggest that you store a decent amount of hair in a -20 freezer and hoe for the best. The reason I recommend hair is that it has previously been used to obtain the genome of an 4500year old human. If left at room temperature hair may still produce a genome but probaly only for a couple of hundred years with the current sequencing technology. $\endgroup$ Commented May 23, 2017 at 22:35

To clone something you need a living cell, not just DNA. Although DNA could someday be used to make a clone, it would require technology that is a long way off. You can store DNA indefinitely by extracting it from a cell and storing it in alcohol.

To preserve a live cell indefinitely requires very cold temperature, below -50F, otherwise the cell will deteriorate in various ways. Normal freezing temperatures will damage the cell due to the way water crystallizes at near freezing temperatures. If a cell is fully dessicated somehow without damaging it, then possibly it could be preserved in alcohol at room temperature, but it would be hard to dessicate the cell without damaging it.

You can, of course, experiment to try to do it. Get some cells, and first learn how to grow them so they reproduce. Once you can do that, try freeze drying them with different solvents. Once the cell is dried, store it in alcohol, then try to revive the cell by re-hydrating it. If you can cause the cell to divide again after re-hydration then, congratulations!, you have figured out how to preserve a live cell indefinitely at room temperature and can potentially publish a paper about it. Obviously, this would require many weeks of devoted effort to accomplish.

  • $\begingroup$ This is an old Q/A; an answer discussing cryopreservation techniques is missing and would improve it if you want something to work on here. $\endgroup$
    – Armand
    Commented Aug 10, 2021 at 2:10

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