Gel Electrophoresis Essay

1968 words - 8 pages

As seen on many crime shows and at real-life crime scenes, it is necessary to be able to identify DNA. Most of the time, this is done using a technique known as gel electrophoresis. Gel electrophoresis is a method used to separate the macromolecules that make up nucleic acids, such as DNA and RNA, along with proteins. Gel electrophoresis is significant because it has given scientists insight on what cells cause certain diseases and has led to advancements in DNA and fingerprint identification. My experiment will use gel electrophoresis to compare samples of natural and synthetic food dyes. The background for this experiment broaches the following subjects: inventors, real-world uses, ...view middle of the document...

Electrophoresis is used daily in many laboratory settings.
There is a coalesced theory to explain gel electrophoresis and gel filtration. This theory was formulated in 1970 and is one of the most recent on the topic of gel electrophoresis. The National Academy of Science states, "The behavior of macromolecules in gel filtration and gel electrophoresis may be predicted from Ogston's model for random mesh work of fibers. This model has been generalized to apply to non-spherical molecules and to several gel types. The theory defines conditions for optimal separation and optimal resolution in gel electrophoresis and gel filtration" (Unified Theory for Gel Electrophoresis and Gel Filtration).
There are a few components that compose a gel electrophoresis chamber. First of all, there is a chamber used to contain the gel. The gel used in my experiment will be made from agarose. In order to create an electric field, there are positive and negative electrodes attached to a power source. I will be using alligator clips as the electrodes and nine-volt batteries as a power source. A buffer solution, in this case a 1% solution of baking soda, submerges the gel to allow the ions to carry through and maintain the stability of the Ph levels. A comb is used to generate wells inside of the gel to hold the samples. The comb will be made of styrofoam (Forensic Science: Building Your Own Tool For Identifying DNA).
Proteins, or nucleic acids, are isolated and separated within a gel. The gel is cast in a thin, welled slab. In this particular experiment, the gel will be composed of agarose (Forensic Science: Building Your Own Tool For Identifying DNA). According to research, " Agarose is a polysaccharid extracted from seaweed. It is typically used at concentrations of 0.5 to 2%. The higher the agarose concentration the "stiffer" the gel. Agarose gels are extremely easy to prepare: you simply mix agarose powder with buffer solution, melt it by heating, and pour the gel. It is also non-toxic" (Principles of Gel Electrophoresis). Of the mediums used in gel electrophoresis, agarose is the most common.
Gel electrophoresis is based on the principal that all charged molecules, particularly nucleic acids, will separate when stimulated by an electric field (Gel Electrophoresis- Principles and Basics). This electric field is created by the electrodes attached to the electrophoresis chamber. According to Merriam-Webster, " An electrode is a conductor used to establish electrical contact with a nonmetallic part of a circuit" (Merriam-Webster). When placed in this electric field, molecules will be attracted to the electrode of the opposite charge due to an occurrence know as electrostatic attraction. As defined by Physics Lab, " Electrostatic attraction occurs when oppositely charged particles, an alpha particle with two positive charges and a less massive electron with a single negative charge, are attracted to each other" (Electrostatic Attraction). Electrostatic...

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