Thursday, 25 June 2009

Extracting DNA ... in your kitchen

Want some DNA? The following extract is taken from the elegant book, "Your Inner Fish", by Neil Shubin (discoverer-in-chief of the Tiktaalik fossils):

Extracting DNA from bodies is really easy, so easy you can do it in your kitchen. Take a handful of tissue from some plant or animal - peas, or steak, or chicken liver. Add some salt and water and pop everything in a blender to mush up the tissue. Then add some dish soap. Soap breaks up the membranes that surround all the cells in the tissue that were too small for the blender to handle. After that, add some meat tenderizer. The meat tenderizer breaks up some of the proteins that attach to DNA. Now you have a soapy, meat-tenderized soup, with DNA inside. Finally,add some rubbing alcohol to the mix. You'l have two layers of liquid: soapy mush on the bottom, clear alcohol on top. DNA has a real attraction to alcohol and will move into it. If a goopy while ball appears in the alcohol, you've done everything right. That goop is the DNA.

Well I'm sold. Off to the kitchen.

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