FitnessGenes testing process decoded: Part I

Thursday, August 25, 2016. Author Helena Pickford

As genetic testing is a new and innovative science, there is still, and understandably so, some confusion as to how we can take a sample of saliva and turn that information into actionable recommendations.

In this two part blog series, the FitnessGenes science team draw back the curtain, and reveal our genetic testing process from start to finish.

Your DNA sample

Firstly, you may wonder why we collect your DNA by saliva sample, rather than testing blood or hair follicles as you may have seen on TV. It is not the saliva that we are analysing, but rather cheek cells that are found in the saliva. Your body continually sheds cells, replacing them with new ones at a rapid rate. As a result, your saliva contains an abundance of cheek cells, making it a perfect source of DNA. 

When you close the lid on the test tube, a buffer solution is added to your sample, which stabilises the cells for up to five years at room temperature1. This means that even if you are returning your sample from overseas, the quality of the sample will not be compromised on its journey back to us.

Upon arrival at the FitnessGenes Head Quarters, your sample’s unique barcode is scanned, before it is transported to our laboratory for testing. 

Laboratory processing

Your sample must undergo several processes at our laboratory before we can identify your genetic potential. The DNA must first be extracted from the cheek cells using sonication, where high frequency ultrasound is used to break open the cell membrane and nucleus, releasing fragmented DNA. The DNA is then purified of any remaining cell debris and the yield is checked. A typical yield of DNA is 55mg per litre of saliva2. That's equivalent to a teaspoon of DNA in 100 litres of saliva!

The isolated DNA is now ready to be pipetted onto 96 well plates for fluorescent labelling and PCR (polymerase chain reaction) amplification, a process which makes multiple copies of small uniform segments of the DNA, to enrich the sample.

Finally, the DNA is ‘genotyped’, by being run on a small glass slide coated in fluorescent probes that latch onto DNA fragments of interest. By measuring the levels of fluorescence, we generate digital signals of various intensities depending on which gene types you carry, producing a stunning glowing map of your DNA. The whole process is carried out in duplicate to cross examine results and ensure accuracy, before the final lab results are sent to the FitnessGenes science team for analysis.


Your DNA is made up of two intertwined helix shaped strands, joined together in the middle by pairs of interlocking molecules (base pairs) labelled A, T, C and G. The sequence of these base pairs determine a particular gene, eye colour for example, whilst variations within the sequence determines whether your eyes are blue or brown.

The science team receive your genetic information in this raw ‘ATCG’ format. At this stage, if there are gaps or discrepancies in the results, your sample is run a third time to ensure conclusive data. Once double and triple checked, your genetic code is fed into the FitnessGenes patent-pending model. When combined with the lifestyle data you provide us, we now have all of the information we need to create your personalised recommendations and Genetic Workout Plans!

Part 2 coming soon...

Be sure to keep an eye out for FitnessGenes Testing Process: Part 2, where the science team will explain how your data is turned into the results and recommendations you see in your members area.

Yet to send your DNA through our testing process? Unlock your unique fitness genetics and maximise your results with a personalised Genetic Workout System. Available now in our online shop.


  1. Birnboim, H.C. Long-term stability of DNA from saliva samples stored in Oragene kit. DNA Genotek. PD-WP-005.
  2. PD-BR-017: Oragene DNA (OG-500) data sheet
  3. Dr Samantha Decombel, FitnessGenes Chief Science Officer
  4. Genomics 101, Front Line Genomics Magazine, 2016
  5. Learn Genetics, Genetic Science Learning Centre

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