• Fred Turner, 17, from Yorkshire built a DNA testing machine in his bedroom
  • Built the polymerase chain reaction machine from items he found at home
  • Wanted to see if his brother had the mutated gene that causes ginger hair
  • Experiment was a success and proved why his brother is ginger and he isn’t
  • Fred was named the UK’s Young Engineer of the Year for his design

By Emma Innes

PUBLISHED: 05:16 EST, 5 April 2013 | UPDATED: 17:42 EST, 5 April 2013

With Fred’s straight brown hair and Gus’s curly ginger mane, the teasing the Turner brothers got from their friends was rather predictable.

Less predictable, however, was Fred’s response to it.

After putting up with endless jokes about the boys having different fathers, 17-year-old Fred settled the matter once and for all – by designing his very own DNA testing machine.

Fred Turner, 17, (right) built a DNA testing machine in his bedroom to establish why his brother, Gus, 14, (left) is gingerFred Turner, 17, (right) built a DNA testing machine in his bedroom to establish why his brother, Gus, 14, (left) is ginger

The budding scientist used it to analyse Gus’s DNA, proving that the 14-year-old had the genetic mutation which gives a person ginger hair.

And as well as silencing his friends, Fred’s ingenuity earned him a top engineering prize – and a place to study biochemistry at Oxford.

He said: ‘After years of jokes from my friends saying me and Gus have different dads, I built the machine to test once and for all why my brother is ginger and I’m not.

‘The theory is that red hair appears in people with a mutated gene. They have two copies of a recessive gene which causes a mutation in the MC1R protein in DNA.

‘I built the machine so I could put that theory to the test and see for myself if Gus has that mutation, which would explain why Gus has ginger hair.’