Tag Archives: PCR

Molecular Biology 101: DNA testing

Today, archaeologists from the University of Leicester announced that they believe they have found the lost grave of the last English King of the house of York, Richard III. They have been testing bones believed to be his to compare his DNA with that of known descendants in order to confirm his identity. This is a pretty similar process to the DNA testing we hear about all the time for paternity tests, or forensic studies: but how does it actually work? Continue reading

The Ramen Diaries, Part 4: Oh god, it worked?!

This afternoon as I walked back over to the post-PCR lab (after more ramen – today’s was pork) I thought sadly to myself about how far I have come. When I started Grad school, full of enthusiasm and confidence, if something like a PCR reaction didn’t work I would instantly start looking for what might be wrong: what could I do differently next time. The idea that ‘it just didn’t work’ was completely alien to me. Now I know better. Primers that look perfect could easily correspond to a repeated sequence. Reaction conditions that are completely contrary to everything I know about PCR design can produce much cleaner results than a perfectly designed reaction. I’ve learned to loathe PCR, and along with it, expect that any ‘completely new’ reaction just won’t work.

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