The term DNA sounds so fascinating, u might have heard it many times in general talks or newspaper articles. The DNA stands for deoxyribonucleic acid and is the basic building block of any living cell.
Do you think that extracting your own DNA requires heavy and sophisticated laboratory equipment? No, you can do it at your home. Interesting right! Then have a look, before jumping into the experiment (DNA Extraction At Home). Here are few things you need to know about DNA.
DNA is the heredity material in humans and all living organisms. With the exception of red blood cells, all cells in human body have the same DNA. In a cell, DNA is present in nucleus in which it is embedded inside thread like structures known as chromosomes. It is the central most important storage system of information. It contains instructions needed for an organism to develop, survive and reproduce. It is like a blueprint as it contains biological instructions that tell an organism how to build cells and what role they should play.
In this article, you are going to learn about DNA Extraction At Home using some basic household items.
You need few things to carry out the activity:
1. 500ml water
2. 91% isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
3. Dishwashing agents
4. Food colour
5. Small clear Plastic cups
6. 2 tablespoons of salt
Yes, surprised! With these common household things you can extract your own DNA. Now let’s start the activity.
Procedure (DNA Extraction At Home)
1. First take 500ml water in a plastic cup and add one tablespoon of salt to the water. Stir it continuously until the salt dissolves completely.
2. Then transfer 2 tablespoons of salt water into another plastic cup and vigorously gargle salt water for a minute and then spit the salt water gargled into the same plastic cup.
3. Now you have the cheek cells containing DNA in your hand.
4. Now add 1ml of clear dishwashing soap (you can use it from your kitchen) to the salt water which you spit out.
5. Pour 100ml of isopropyl alcohol in another plastic cup.
6. Now add few drops of food colour to the alcohol and mix them well. The purpose of adding food colour is to allow DNA to become more visible because the clumped DNA is difficult to see inside the plastic cup. Because saliva can be mistaken as DNA without proper contrast.
7. Tilt the salt water cup and pour alcohol carefully in such a way that alcohol makes a layer on the top of salt water.
8. Wait for few minutes until result is obtained. Because DNA usually extract into alcohol layer over time.
9. Now you can see filaments of DNA forming a top layer in the solution and after few minutes you can observe white clusters of DNA at the bottom of the cup.
How Does it Work?
First, Dead cells are continuously removed off from both inside and outside of the body. But the removed cell still contain the nucleus along with their DNA. We used salt because DNA has sugar phosphate backbone which is charged. By adding salt, we can neutralize the DNA charge and make the molecule less hydrophilic, meaning it becomes less soluble in water. The salt also helps to remove proteins that are bound to the DNA and to keep the proteins dissolved in the water.
In the second step, we used dishwashing agent because it dissolves and break down lipids and protein which is constituent of cell membrane such that bonds gets disrupted which holds membrane together. The cell contents including nucleus are released and become available for further treatment.
In the final step of the experiment we used isopropyl alcohol. Because DNA is insoluble in isopropyl alcohol. The dissolved DNA will precipitate when it comes in contact with alcohol. We can use simple ethanol as well.
In this activity (DNA Extraction At Home ) you can see your own DNA. But keep in mind that genetic material you get in this experiment is actually clumps of thousands of strands of DNA. But when you need individual strands of DNA, you will need a electron microscope.
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Swathi Tanuja Adari is passionate about writing science articles and loves reading books.