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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Re: If Ever a Whiz of a Wiz There Was…

posted by on June 13 at 16:35 PM

I was pretty devastated after reading this news. A sizable chunk of my childhood was spent memorizing every episode of “Mr. Wizard’s World.” Unlike so many other science shows, he focused on experiments that one could do with things around the house.

So, for Don Herbert, I present to you how to extract DNA at home. Go mess up your kitchen one more time, in his honor. (Directions after the jump)

Extracting DNA from Strawberries (or practically anything else with cells)

What you’ll need:

    Chilled Alcohol. Must be greater than 90% alcohol. This can include 180 proof liquor or rubbing alcohol.

    Soft fruit. Strawberries, bananas and kiwi work really well.

    Tap water

    Table Salt

    Liquid dishwashing soap

    Sealable plastic baggies



    Narrow drinking glass

    Unbleached paper towel (optional)

    Black light (optional)

Put the bottle of alcohol in the freezer to cool it down.

Combine one or two strawberries (or a similar amount of other fruit), two tablespoons of water, a half-teaspoon of salt and a squirt of liquid dish detergent in a sealable plastic bag. Smash up the fruit—the more smashed the better it will work later.

Pour the liquid mixture out of the bag, through the cheesecloth (to remove the chunks) and into the narrow glass.

Gently pour the chilled alcohol on top of the (water-based) liquid in the glass so that it forms a distinct layer—like salad dressing.

You should see the DNA rise up from the water layer to the alcohol layer, forming a clear shimmering snot-like ball.

With a couple of gentle swirls with a q-tip, draw up the DNA.

(optional steps)

Streak out the DNA on the unbleached paper towel. Use the black light to make the DNA glow purple.

This technique will extract DNA from practically anything with cells in it. For meat and other tough things, you should add a step with meat tenderizer powder before adding the salt and detergent.

RSS icon Comments


Is this like a Yank thing?

Posted by Will in Seattle | June 13, 2007 5:15 PM

I work in a lab, and this is pretty much what I do all day to prep for PCR. It's FAIRLY similar to a real protocol. (I need better quality DNA).

Posted by scientist | June 13, 2007 6:19 PM

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